Wie Kultur unser Gehirn beeinflusst

Neuronale Korrelate kultureller Unterschiede in der sozialen Kognition

In times of globalization and increasing intercultural exchange, social understanding between cultures gains tremendously in importance. Recent studies, however, showed that people are better in understanding emotions and mental states of people from their own than from another culture. This effect has been called intracultural advantage, but little is known about its neuronal basis. Since the mirror neuron system (MNS) has been proposed as the biological substrate of social cognition and interpersonal understanding (Pineda, 2009), it might also be sensitive to cultural differences. With the emergence and development of cultural neuroscience (CN), a new perspective and approach to systematically understand differences in MNS activity between cultures is feasible (Han et al., 2013). Although recent cultural neuroscience studies have provided increasing evidence on cultural differences in neural correlates of cognition and behavior (Han and Ma, 2014; Kim and Sasaki, 2014; Wajman et al., 2015), evidence on cultural differences in the MNS response remains extremely limited.
The purpose of our project is to explore cultural differences in MNS responsivity with a new approach: CN. Specifically, we will study cultural differences in the response profiles of the MNS during social-cognitive and social-emotional processing. To this end, we will investigate the neural basis of imitation, as well as empathy for basic and social emotions, in two different cultures: individualism (Germany) and collectivism (China). Further, we will study the effect of social learning on cultural differences in social cognition with a cross-sectional approach by comparing participants from China and Germany who live abroad with those who never lived abroad.

The relationship among culture, race, nationality, and ethnicity