Cultural Neuroscience: Connecting Culture, Brain, and Genes, by Kitayama and Huff

01/01/2015View on timeline


A 2015 overview asserts that, from a functional connectivity analysis showing that neural connections between MPFC and bilateral temporoparietal function (said to be “implicated” in perspective taking) “were much stronger for Chinese than for Danes during the judgment of social attributes of the self,” it can be concluded that the Chinese self is constituted by a more integrated, or holistic, representation of both direct and indirect appraisals. In comparison, the Western self appears more one-dimensional in the sense that it is defined largely on the basis of the first-person perspective alone. (Kitayama and Huff 2015, 6) Such an inference, however, is fallacious.


This is not because it implies the questionable existence of a homogeneous, perfectly self-consistent Western or Chinese self. In fact, the study itself reports that in Asian American individuals, who have multiple cultural identities, brain response patterns depend on which “cultural frame” is made salient (10), but it does not establish that this cannot happen in allegedly monocultural persons. The inference is fallacious because the nature of a self cannot be inferred or even hypothesized from the existence of certain “neural connections.” However, such an inference exhibits the ultimate implicit goal of much neurodisciplinary research: to diagnose and classify on the basis of brain data, thus saving the trouble of engaging in apparently messier and less objective human science research.

Vidal, Fernando and Ortega, Francisco. Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject (Forms of Living)....

Below you can find the full article on Research Gate, download the PDF and watch a talk given by Shinobu Kitayama on cultural neuroscience:
Title and abstract of the article

Kitayama, Shinobu, and Sarah Huff. 2015. “Cultural Neuroscience: Connecting Culture, Brain, and Gene...

Cultural Neuroscience: Connecting Culture, Brain, and Genes (PDF)
Shinobu Kitayama, "Cultural Neuroscience of the Self", ISS 2010
Shinobu Kitayama, PhD, is the Robert B. Zajonc Collegiate Professor of Psychology and director of th...

About Shinobu Kitayama

Sarah Huff is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology at Amherst Colleg...

About Sarah Huff

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Published in 15/01/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

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