Wednesday, 19 March 2008

People from different cultures use their brains differently.

People from different cultures use their brains differently.

We've heard this often, but now there's scientific proof.

People from East Asian Cultures use their Brain Differently from People in American Culture

According to the latest results from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies, people from East Asian cultures use their brains differently from people immersed in American culture when solving the same visual mental tasks. 

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Does this mean that some cultures are brainier than others? 

This had been the central argument of colonialism, where the Victorian men were portrayed as the epitome of civilisation and others struggling to remain just over the simian border. 

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Some people would revel at any opportunity to prove that they are better than others and use this to justify their claims, no doubt! 

Different usage of brain and thinking patterns results from needs to adapt to different circumstances and environment and the challenges faced. There is no way of measuring inherent superiority or inferiority because how are we to construct a scale for such measurements. Should it be task based, used moral judgements or measure behaviours under monitored circumstances?

Research Evidence of Thinking Patterns Changing with Environment

Social psychology also provides strong evidence that one’s thinking patterns change depending on one’s experiences and environment. Western philosophers and psychologists usually take it for granted that the same basic processes underlie all human thought. 

Though cultural differences might dictate what people think about, the strategies and processes of thought, which include logical reasoning and a desire to understand situations and events in sequential terms of cause and effect, were assumed to be the same for all humans. 

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Research by social psychologists like Dr Richard Nisbett shows that people who grow up in different cultures actually think differently. The environment and culture in which you were raised affects and even makes many of your thought processes different from others. 

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So, we should have more understanding and not jump to conclusions too hastily.


Anonymous said...

Are you familiar with Nisbett's most recent book The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently... And Why (Free Press; 2003), which contends that "human cognition is not everywhere the same," that Asians and Westerners "have maintained very different systems of thought for thousands of years," and that these differences are scientifically measurable.

Rana Sinha said...

Thanks for your comment.

I have read the book. Very interesting.