Where did you grow up? What type of clothes did you wear? What style of food did you eat? These aren’t just conversation starters to break the ice, they are also tell-tale signs on how your brain is wired, and how it operates.
We all know that our upbringing influences our likes and dislikes. However, much more is now known about the unique relationship between culture and brain function.
If a Japanese person were to see a fish swimming, they would be more likely to remember the background—the flora in the water, all the other fish, and the color of the water. If Westerners were to look at the same fish in the water, they would be more likely to focus on the fish itself.
When it comes to faces, Asians would concentrate on the center of the face. Westerners would likely notice the eyes and mouth, a more broad collection of facial traits.
Culture differences have a huge impact on our brain structure says research. This study, conducted in Singapore, states that Asians have a thicker cortex in perceptual areas of the brain. This may be why they notice the “big picture” when it comes to observing people, animals, fish, etc. Westerners, on the other hand, have a much meatier frontal cortex—responsible for reasoning and emotions.
However, as a person ages, it also appears through research that the process of aging itself has a greater impact than culture by itself. And a good thing to know is that the aspects of ourselves culture separates to make us all unique seems to slowly disappear or decrease a great deal once we grow old.
This research shows that the brain is quite remarkable and impressionable. Depending on environment, culture, physical and emotional trauma, and other factors, a brain can change quite markedly throughout one’s life.
Yet the brain is not simply in a permanent state of learning, processing, changing and growing, particularly when the person is quite old.