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African Dance for African American Cognitive Health


This study, called the Rhythm Experience and Africana Culture Trial (REACT), will test whether African dance can improve cognitive health in African Americans with mild cognitive impairment.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
60 Years 80 Years All Yes
May 21, 2019
May 31, 2023

  • Self-identifies race as African American
  • Can walk and move about without pain or the assistance of walking devices
  • No history of falls or balance problems
  • Able to speak and read English
  • Available during the times classes are offered and able to make at least 80% of classes
  • Reliable transportation
  • Score on Brief Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS) test score above 21 indicating mild cognitive impairment
  • No diagnosis of a neurological disease or psychiatric conditions
  • Eligible to undergo MRI (not claustrophobic and no metal or history of injury involving metal)

  • Score on TICS test score of 21 or below, indicating moderate to severe cognitive impairment

Physical activity has important health benefits. In this study, researchers will test whether African dance, as a form of physical activity, can improve cognitive health in older African Americans.

In this six-month study, participants will be randomly assigned to either an African Dance or Africana Culture class. The African Dance class will begin at a light to moderate intensity and progress to a moderate or high intensity depending on the participants' heart rate and fitness. The Africana Culture class will include a variety of activities, including cooking, games, music, art, traditional crafts, and lectures about Africana culture and customs. All classes will meet for one hour, three times each week. The researchers will collect measures of physical and psychological health such as waist circumference, blood pressure, blood glucose and lipid levels, mood, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Participants will also receive MRI brain scans to measure changes in the brain.

Name City State Zip Status Primary Contact
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 15260 Recruiting Chelsea Stillman, Ph.D.

University of Pittsburgh

  • National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Name Role Affiliation
Kirk I Erickson, PhD Principal Investigator University of Pittsburgh

Name Phone Email
Chelsea M Stillman, PhD 12077126847
Kirk I Erickson, PhD 412-576-3724


Rhythm Experience and Africana Culture Trial II