London: You think you can’t dance because you have two left feet? Rethink. Because, your struggle for shaking a leg could lie in your head, not feet, say researchers.

A new study by Oxford University has revealed that the art of dancing is all in the mind, in fact, the ability to learn new moves is linked to the way the brain handles a chemical messenger.

Levels of the chemical, called GABA, rise and fall dramatically in brains of people who are good at learning sequences of movements; however, levels are far more stable in people who struggle with the task, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

The researchers said their findings helped explain why some people struggled with dance and piano lessons -- and even have implications for the treatment of stroke patients.

For their study, the researchers led by Charlotte Stagg, asked volunteers to learn a sequence of finger motions.

Each sequence involved ten taps of the fingers of one hand on a pad of buttons. The same principle would apply to the co-ordination needed for dancing moves.

Some of the volunteers found the task easy, but one was unable to learn it. They then carried out magnetic resonance imaging scans on the volunteers' brains while they were being stimulated with a tiny electrical current, a technique designed to mimic the effects of learning, to measure levels of GABA.

GABA plays a key role in a region of the brain called the motor cortex which deals with planning and controlled movements, such as dancing and playing musical instruments.

It works as an inhibitor, preventing neurons or the brain's nerve cells from linking to each other.

The scans showed that levels of GABA fell most sharply in people who quickly learnt the finger sequence and dropped the least in people who struggled with the task.

"This is very early days and there are a lot of other things that effect more complex motor skills like dancing. But it suggests GABA may be one reason," Dr Stagg said.

The findings have been published in the latest edition of the 'Current Biology' journal. The findings could also shed light on how brains recover after strokes. Treatments that influence levels of GABA could be used to help victims of brain damage regain movement.

(Agencies)