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Cultural neuroscience: new directions as the field matures

What do cultural neuroscience findings mean?

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Culture and Brain

Abstract

Cultural neuroscience has documented factors that affect biological and psychological processes that reciprocally shape beliefs and norms shared by groups of individuals. Here we highlight open questions regarding the stability versus malleability of these findings across time, environments, and cultural settings. By borrowing points from population neuroscience (Falk et al., in Proc Natl Acad Sci 110:17615–17622, 2013) and neurogenetics (Bogdan et al., in Mol Psychiatry 18:288–299, 2012), we highlight considerations for research on the development of differences in brain structure and function, particularly in the context of cultural variation. These points highlight the need to better understand gene by culture interactions; in particular, the potential role of ancestry, and the role the brain likely plays as a mechanism through which gene by culture interactions affect behavior. Moreover, we highlight the need to consider development in the interaction of culture and biology. We also highlight methodological challenges as neuroscience is brought to the population level including the importance of sampling and experimental equivalence across groups and cultures. In total, this discussion is aimed at fostering new advances in the young field of cultural neuroscience and highlighting ways in which cultural neuroscience can inform a broader understanding of the development of differences in complex behaviors.

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Notes

  1. Note that though we set-up dichotomies throughout this paper (i.e., are these changes experience dependent versus heritable), we do so only to highlight the questions in the field. As noted throughout, we believe that most, if not all, pathways we are discussing are clearly the product of interactions between the person and context.

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Hyde, L.W., Tompson, S., Creswell, J.D. et al. Cultural neuroscience: new directions as the field matures. Cult. Brain 3, 75–92 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40167-014-0024-6

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