How does Culture Alter the Brain?

Is there a physiological component to cultural differences? Researchers at MIT used MRI scans to study the brains of Americans and East Asians while solving different types of problems. They discovered some key differences:

Previous psychology research has shown that American culture focuses on the individual and values independence, while East Asian culture is more community-focused and emphasizes seeing people and objects in context. This study provides the first neurological evidence that these cultural differences extend to brain activity patterns.

The tests found that American brains worked harder in making relative judgments while East Asian brains worked harder making absolute judgments. Apparently cultural differences cause measurable differences in how our brains work. Participants were asked a series of questions to determine how strongly they were aligned with their culture. Those most aligned with their culture showed a stronger brain effect.

This provides an interesting insight into immigration and acculturation. The article suggests that six months living in another culture is enough to make a difference. Maybe someday we will have a test to measure how bi-cultural a person has become.

The results of the study were published in the January issue of the journal Psychological Science.

(Sighted on Next Gener.Asian Church)

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