Imagen del MIT muestra que la cultura ejerce influencia en la función cerebralContributed by: Anonymous · Views: 1,075
Contributed by: Anonymous · January 12, 2008 @ 10:21 AM MST · Views: 1,075
Culture influences brain function, MIT imaging showsCathryn M. Delude, McGovern Institute
People from different cultures use their brains differently to solve the same visual perceptual tasks, MIT researchers and colleagues report in the first brain imaging study of its kind.
Image courtesy / Trey Hedden
Brain activity in East Asians and Americans as they make relative and
absolute judgments. The arrows point to brain regions involved in
attention that are engaged by more demanding tasks. Americans show
more activity during relative judgments than absolute judgments, presumably because
the former task is less familiar and hence more demanding for them.
East Asians show the opposite pattern.
To find out, a team led by John Gabrieli, a professor at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, asked 10 East Asians recently arrived in the United States and 10 Americans to make quick perceptual judgments while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner--a technology that maps blood flow changes in the brain that correspond to mental operations.
The results are reported in the January issue of Psychological Science. Gabrieli's colleagues on the work were Trey Hedden, lead author of the paper and a research scientist at McGovern; Sarah Ketay and Arthur Aron of State University of New York at Stony Brook; and Hazel Rose Markus of Stanford University.
Photo / Donna Coveney
John Gabrieli, the Grover Herman Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, left, and McGovern Institute research scientist Trey Hedden display the results from their recent psychological study.
In previous behavioral studies of similar tasks, Americans were more accurate on absolute judgments, and East Asians on relative judgments. In the current study, the tasks were easy enough that there were no differences in performance between the two groups.
However, the two groups showed different patterns of brain activation when performing these tasks. Americans, when making relative judgments that are typically harder for them, activated brain regions involved in attention-demanding mental tasks. 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.
"We were surprised at the magnitude of the difference between the two cultural groups, and also at how widespread the engagement of the brain's attention system became when making judgments outside the cultural comfort zone," says Hedden.
The researchers went on to show that the effect was greater in those individuals who identified more closely with their culture. They used questionnaires of preferences and values in social relations, such as whether an individual is responsible for the failure of a family member, to gauge cultural identification. Within both groups, stronger identification with their respective cultures was associated with a stronger culture-specific pattern of brain-activation.
How do these differences come about? "Everyone uses the same attention machinery for more difficult cognitive tasks, but they are trained to use it in different ways, and it's the culture that does the training," Gabrieli says. "It's fascinating that the way in which the brain responds to these simple drawings reflects, in a predictable way, how the individual thinks about independent or interdependent social relationships."
Gabrieli is the Grover Herman Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and holds an appointment at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and supported by the McGovern Institute.
Courtesy: MIT news office