Navigation Links
Culture wires the brain: A cognitive neuroscience perspective

Where you grow up can have a big impact on the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and even how your brain works. In a report in a special section on Culture and Psychology in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychological scientists Denise C. Park from the University of Texas at Dallas and Chih-Mao Huang from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discuss ways in which brain structure and function may be influenced by culture.

There is evidence that the collectivist nature of East Asian cultures versus individualistic Western cultures affects both brain and behavior. East Asians tend to process information in a global manner whereas Westerners tend to focus on individual objects. There are differences between East Asians and Westerners with respect to attention, categorization, and reasoning. For example, in one study, after viewing pictures of fish swimming, Japanese volunteers were more likely to remember contextual details of the image than were American volunteers. Experiments tracking participants' eye movements revealed that Westerners spend more time looking at focal objects while Chinese volunteers look more at the background. In addition, our culture may play a role in the way we process facial information. Research has indicated that when viewing faces, East Asians focus on the central region of faces while Westerners look more broadly, focusing on both the eyes and mouth.

Examining changes in cognitive processeshow we thinkover time can provide information about the aging process as well as any culture-related changes that may occur. When it comes to free recall, working memory, and processing speed, aging has a greater impact than does culturethe decline in these functions is a result of aging and not cultural experience. Park and Huang note that, "with age, both cultures would move towards a more balanced representation of self and others, leading Westerners to become less oriented to self and East Asians to conceivably become more self-focused."

While numerous studies suggest that culture may affect neural function, there is also limited evidence for the effect of cultural experiences on brain structure. A recent study conducted by Park and Michael Chee of Duke/National University of Singapore showed evidence for thicker frontal cortex (areas involved in reasoning) in Westerners compared to East Asians, whereas East Asians had thicker cortex in perceptual areas. Park and Huang observe that using neuroimaging to study the impact of culture on neuroanatomy faces many challenges. They write, "The data are collected from two groups of participants who typically differ in many systematic ways besides their cultural values, rendering interpretation of any differences found quite difficult." In addition, for each study, it is important that the MRI machines use identical imaging hardware and software.

The authors conclude, "This research is an important domain for understanding the malleability of the human brain and how differences in values and social milieus sculpt the brain's structure and function."


Contact: Keri Chiodo
Association for Psychological Science

Related medicine news :

1. UCLA scientists teach cultured brain cells to keep time
2. New iPhone App “Wing Chun Masters” Brings 400-Year-Old Kung Fu To Life Amidst Renewed Popular Interest In Culture.
3. How pest insects might adapt to climate change, affecting agriculture and health
4. Florida Departments of Agriculture and Education Join Florida Dairy Farmers and NFL to Improve Health and Wellness in Florida Schools
5. 3-D cell culture: Making cells feel right at home
6. Helmets must be part of skiing and snowboarding culture, doctors urge
7. Heart bypass for uncomplicated heart surgery does not reduce neurocognitive function in children
8. Medications found to cause long term cognitive impairment of aging brain
9. Mayo Clinic study finds apathy and depression predict progression from mild cognitive impairment
10. Predicting Alzheimers Risk in Patients With Cognitive Problems
11. Teenage physical activity reduces risk of cognitive impairment in later life
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... ... It’s inevitable that everyone will experience death in his or her lifetime. ... lives among us. It is your perspective, however, that determines how you view death ... T Sky understands that she may see death more frequently than most. As she ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Sikka Software announced today that ... Their Ecosystem empowers dentists to make complex business decisions by providing the tools and ... a free fee survey with 10 procedures customized by zip code. , The ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... 30, 2015 , ... Insightra Medical, Inc. and Novus Scientific ... for soft tissue repair in the US via Insightra’s national direct sales channel. ... intended to support and reinforce soft tissue for 6-9 months before absorbing completely ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Columbia, Maryland (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 ... ... human interactions could be of critical importance to the medical schools of the ... SIMmersion exhibited its healthcare suite at the 2015 ChangeMedEd conference in Chicago, organized ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... a leading provider of enterprise Time and Attendance/Workforce Management cloud-based solutions, announced ... Microsoft Partner Program with competencies in the Application Development, demonstrating a “best-in-class” ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... Belgium , Nov. 30, 2015   ... focused on developing blood-based diagnostic tests for a broad range ... will present at the LD Micro Conference, which will be ... CA. Attending from VolitionRx will be David ... Powell , Vice President of Investor Relations. ® ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... IRVINE, Calif. and REHOVOT, Israel ... privately held specialty pharmaceutical company focused on acquiring and ... disorders, today announced the appointment of Keith A. ... directors. Gregory J. Flesher , chief executive ... experience in building successful organizations.  As chairman, he will ...
(Date:11/29/2015)... 2015   Royal Philips  (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) ... the 2015 Radiological Society of North America Annual Meeting ... in Chicago . Visitors to the ... broad portfolio of integrated Diagnostic Imaging, Clinical Informatics, Image ... performance, improve workflow and create a superior patient experience. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: