Thursday, March 12, 2009

Do cultural brain differences exist

East meets west: How the brain unites us all - science-in-society - 10 March 2009 - New Scientist

Well, the short answer to the title of this post is: Yes. In the sense that all learning changes the structure of the brain at the cellular level (neurons linking to other neurons) - in that regard ALL brains are different and certainly brains from individuals within a culture will have similar learnings that are culturally defined and therefore "different" from other cultures.

However, the article tries to tackle the idea that the differences might be much more profound than just minor differences in general learning. The evidence they bring up both pro and con are quite interesting, but inconclusive. Some anthropologists (which I have linked here previously) would argue that there are no significant cultural differences that could be ascribed to evolutionary divergence. They point to things like gender roles and perception across cultures as the basis for this thinking.

I don't think I buy any argument that would go so far as to say that thinking across vastly different cultures has become evolutionarily divergent, but developmentally divergent would be a more accurate description.