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Disparities exist between Latinos and non-Latino Whites in cognitive function. Dance is culturally appropriate and challenges individuals physically and cognitively, yet the impact of regular dancing on cognitive function in older Latinos has not been examined. A two-group pilot trial was employed among inactive, older Latinos. Participants (N = 57) participated in the BAILAMOS© dance program or a health education program. Cognitive test scores were converted to z-scores and measures of global cognition and specific domains (executive function, episodic memory, working memory) were derived. Results revealed a group × time interaction for episodic memory (p < .05), such that the dance group showed greater improvement in episodic memory than the health education group. A main effect for time for global cognition (p < .05) was also demonstrated, with participants in both groups improving. Structured Latin dance programs can positively influence episodic memory, and participation in structured programs may improve overall cognition among older Latinos.
Marquez is with the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, Institute for Health Research and Policy, Center for Research on Health and Aging, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. Wilson is with the Departments of Neurological Sciences and Behavioral Sciences, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL. Aguiñaga and Vásquez are with the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. Fogg and Wilbur are with College of Nursing, Rush University, Chicago, IL. Yang is with the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. Hughes is with the Institute for Health Research and Policy, Center for Research on Health and Aging, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. Spanbauer is with the Division of Biostatistics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI.