Thinking differently: It's in your culture

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London, Jan 14 (UNI) Why westerners kiss to greet, Japanese bow to acknowledge, while Chinese shake hands lightly -- it's all in their culture.

People from different cultures use their brains differently to solve the same visual perceptual tasks, experts have now claimed.

Psychological research studied ten east Asians and as many Americans to make quick perceptual judgments while mapping blood flow changes in the brain that corresponded to mental operations.

The two groups showed different patterns of brain activation when performing the tasks. Americans activated brain regions involved in attention demanding mental tasks during relative judgments, which are harder for them. They showed much less activation of these regions when making the more culturally familiar absolute judgments.

East Asians showed the opposite tendency, engaging the brain's attention system more for absolute judgments than for relative judgments.

The magnitude of the difference between the two cultural groups, widespread engagement of the brain's attention system while making judgments outside the cultural comfort zone is surprising, lead author Trey Heyden said.

The researchers went on to show that the effect was greater in those individuals who identified more closely with their culture.

by asking questions on preferences and values in social relations.

Within both groups, stronger identification with their respective cultures was associated with a stronger culture-specific pattern of brain-activation.


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