Those hundreds of semiconscious, split-second decisions you make when you improvise also build your brain
. This helps to explain a surprising finding published in the New England Journal of Medicine
: Elderly people who dance frequently are 75 percent less likely to get dementia than their peers who don't (as a brain-saver, it's even more effective than crossword puzzles). Interpreting and coordinating dance moves—winging it as you do your signature twirl and dip, read your partner's expression and sync your body with the beat—may build new neural circuitry that's as strong and agile as your ligaments.