neologism: Transcultural Neuroimaging


Spotted in Culture-sensitive neural substrates of human cognition: a transcultural neuroimaging approach


Our brains and minds are shaped by our experiences, which mainly occur in the context of the culture in which we develop and live. Although psychologists have provided abundant evidence for diversity of human cognition and behaviour across cultures, the question of whether the neural correlates of human cognition are also culture-dependent is often not considered by neuroscientists. However, recent transcultural neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that one’s cultural background can influence the neural activity that underlies both high- and low-level cognitive functions. The findings provide a novel approach by which to distinguish culture-sensitive from culture-invariant neural mechanisms of human cognition.

Of note:

By comparing cognitive functions in people from Western (European and American) and East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, et cetera) cultures, the ‘culture-and-cognition’ approach104 demonstrates that different sociocultural systems give rise to dissimilar thought styles. Westerners generally think in an analytical way, whereas East Asians generally think in a more holistic manner5, 7. For instance, during a perception task, Americans were better at detecting changes in salient objects than East Asians, and were less affected by contextual information24, 26, 27.

Cultural differences are also evident in social cognition. In a game that involved two individuals interacting, Chinese participants were more in tune with their partner’s perspective than Americans105. Furthermore, Chinese people were more likely to describe memories of social and historical events and focused more on social interactions, whereas European Americans more frequently focused on memories of personal experiences and emphasized their personal roles in events106. Westerners were better at remembering trait words that they associated with themselves than they were at remembering words that they associated with people close to them84, 107, whereas Chinese people remembered both equally well108. Americans tended to explain behaviours in terms of peoples’ dispositions (for example, a person’s gender and education), whereas East Asians showed a preference for attributing behaviour to situational factors (for example, environmental events)9, 109 and were more likely to use situational information to predict other people’s behaviour110. Chinese people endorsed contextual explanations of physical events (for example, friction influencing the movement of an object) more often than Americans, who were more likely to attribute physical events to dispositional factors (for example, an object’s weight or composition)111.

Culture also influences category-based classification of objects: Chinese people organized objects in a more relational (for example, to group a monkey and a banana together because monkeys eat bananas) and less categorical (for example, to group a monkey and a panda together because both are animals) way than European Americans7, 112. Taken together, these findings provide evidence for the diversity of multiple-level cognitive processes across cultures and the dependence of human cognition on sociocultural contexts.


One thought on “neologism: Transcultural Neuroimaging

  1. Adam Jacot de Boinod

    Dear Sir

    I wondered if you might like a link to both my Foreign word site and my English word website or press release details of my ensuing book with Penguin Press on amusing and interesting English vocabulary?

    with best wishes

    Adam Jacot de Boinod

    (author of The Meaning of Tingo)


    or wish to include:

    When photographers attempt to bring out our smiling faces by asking us
    to “Say Cheese”, many countries appear to follow suit with English
    equivalents. In Spanish however they say patata (potato), in Argentinian Spanish whisky, in French steak frites, in Serbia ptica (bird) and in
    Danish appelsin (orange). Do you know of any other varieties from around the world’s languages? See more on


    The Wonder of Whiffling is a tour of English around the globe (with fine
    coinages from our English-speaking cousins across the pond, Down Under
    and elsewhere).
    Discover all sorts of words you’ve always wished existed but never knew,
    such as fornale, to spend one’s money before it has been earned; cagg, a solemn vow or resolution not to get drunk for a certain time; and
    petrichor, the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a
    dry spell.
    Delving passionately into the English language, I also discover why it
    is you wouldn’t want to have dinner with a vice admiral of the narrow
    seas, why Jacobites toasted the little gentleman in black velvet, and
    why a Nottingham Goodnight is better than one from anywhere else. See
    more on

    with best wishes


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