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Perception And Information Processing Shaped By Culture

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Neural response reacts to cultural stimuli

A U.S.-Singapore research team has found the aging human brain reflects cultural differences in the way it processes visual information.

The study, along with another published by the same team last year, is the first to demonstrate culture can alter the brain’s perceptive mechanisms.

The new finding is the result of collaboration between University of Illinois psychology professor Denise Park and Michael Chee of the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory in Singapore.

The two scientists and their colleagues conducted an array of cognitive tests at their facilities in the U.S. and Singapore, using functional magnetic resonance imaging scanners. Their analysis of 37 young and old East Asians, and 38 young and old Westerners found significant cultural differences in how the older adults’ brains responded to visual stimuli.

“These are the first studies to show culture is sculpting the brain,” said Park, principal investigator of the study. “The effect is seen not so much in structural changes, but at the level of perception.”

The research is detailed in the May issue of the
Journal Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience:

“Age and culture modulate object processing and object–scene binding in the ventral visual area.”
Joshua O. Goh, Michael W. Chee, Jiat Chow Tan, Vinod Venkatraman, Andrew Hebrank, Eric D. Leshikar, Lucas Jenkins, Bradley P. Sutton, Angela H. Gutchess, & Denise C. Park
(D.C.P.) The Beckman Institute, 405 North Mathews, Urbana, IL 61801;


Written by huehueteotl

May 2, 2007 at 11:39 am

Posted in Arts, Psychology, Science

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