Reasearch for my doctoral paper leads me to interesting articles, this is another one worth repeating.
Culture has been called “an amalgam of values, meanings, conventions and artifacts that constitute daily social realities” (Kitayama & Park, 2010). As a system of meaning and shared beliefs, culture provides a framework for our behavioral and affective norms. Countless studies in cultural psychology have examined the effect of culture on all aspects of our behavior, cognitionand emotion, delineating both differences and similarities across populations. More recently, findings in cultural neuroscience have outlined possible ways how cultural scripts that we learn during childhood and cultural practices that we observe as adults influence our brains.
What is cultural neuroscience?
Source: royyimzy/Adobe StockAs an interdisciplinary field of research, cultural neuroscience investigates the relationship between culture and the brain, particularly, the ways in which culture “both constructs and is constructed by the mind and its underlying brain pathways” (Kitayama & Park, 2010). Exactly how might culture wire our brains? According to findingsfrom cultural neuroscience, the mechanism has to do with the brain’s plasticity: the brain’s ability to adapt to long-lasting engagement in scripted behaviors (i.e. cultural tasks). The capacity of our brains to undergo structural changes from recurrent daily tasks has been well documented (e.g., larger hippocampi - a region that is intimately involved in spatial memory - of London taxi drivers; increased cortical density in the motor cortex of jugglers). Analogously, in order to process various cultural functions with more fluency, culture appears to become “embrained” from accumulated cultural experiences in our brains. Numerous fMRI studies have shown how cultural background can influence neural activity during various cognitive functions. For instance, cross-cultural differences in brain activity among Western and East Asian participants have been revealed during tasks including visual perception, attention, arithmetic processing, and self-reflection (see Han & Humphreys, 2016 for review).
Culture and self-construal
One of the widely studied traits to interpret cross-cultural differences in behavior, cognition and emotion is self-construal. Self-construal refers to how we perceive and understand ourselves. Western cultures promote an independent self-construal, where the self is viewed as a separate, autonomous entity and the emphasis is on the self’s independence and uniqueness. East Asian cultures, on the other hand, foster an interdependent self-construal, with a self that is more relational, harmonious and interconnected with others. Recent cultural neuroscience studies have given a glimpse into the interaction between self-construal, culture and the brain. In particular, research has suggested that self-construal mediates differences in brain activity across different cultures by activating a framework for various neural processes involved in cognition and emotion. In other words, because the self is formed in the context of our cultural scripts and practices, continuous engagement in cultural tasks that reflect values of independent or interdependent self-construals produces brain connections that are “culturally patterned”. This neural blueprint, according to researchers, is the foundation of the cultural construction of the self.
One way researchers have studied the influence of cultural values on neurocognitive processes is by priming participants towards independent and interdependent construals and then examining how the brain reacts to various situations afterwards. Priming can be done, for example, by asking participants to read stories containing different pronouns (“we” or “us” for interdependent self-construal and “I” or “me” for independent self-construal) and asking them to think about how similar or different they are to others. Findings have demonstrated various differences in neural activity after priming for independent or interdependent construals. For instance, priming has been shown to modulate the response to other people’s pain, as well as the degree with which we resonate with others. In another study, when participants were primed for independent construals during a gambling game, they showed more reward activation for winning money for themselves. However, when primed for interdependent construals, participants showed similar reward activation as when they had won money for a friend.
Culture also appears to influence the way the self is represented in our brains. In one experiment, Western and Chinese participants were asked to think about their selves, their mothers, or a public person. The fMRI data showed that the same parts of the brain (Medial Prefrontal Cortex) were activated when both groups thought about themselves. However, unlike with the Western participants, the MPFC was also activated among Chinese participants when they thought of their mothers. These results were interpreted as suggesting that the Chinese participants (interdependent self-construals) use the same brain area to represent both the self and their mothers, while the Western participants use the MPFC exclusively for self-representation.
Recent cultural neuroscience research is shedding light on how culture shapes our functional anatomy, biases our brains, affects our neural activity, and even influences the way we represent the self and others in our brains. Whether due to daily activities or genes, when neurons fire repeatedly in scripted ways for a prolonged time (essentially what cultural practices entail), brain pathways can be reinforced and established – all to enable a more seamless execution of cultural tasks and to “facilitate a cultural and biological adaptation” (Kitayama & Park, 2010). Thus, as some researchershave suggested, our endorsement of particular cultural values may leave a greater imprint on our brains than on our behaviors.
Ames, D. L., & Fiske, S. T. (2010). Cultural neuroscience. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 13(2), 72-82.
Draganski B, Gaser C, Busch V, Schuierer G, Bogdahn U, May A. (2004). Neuroplasticity: Changes in grey matter induced by training. Nature, 427:311–312.
Frenkel, K. Cultural Neuroscientist Shinobu Kitayama. The fpr.org blog https://thefprorg.wordpress.com/fpr-interviews/cultural-psychologist-shinobu-kitayama/
Gardner, W. L., Gabriel, S., & Lee, A. Y. (1999). “I” value freedom, but “we” value relationships: Self-construal priming mirrors cultural differences in judgment. Psychological Science, 10(4), 321-326.
Gutchess, A. H., Welsh, R. C., Boduroĝlu, A., & Park, D. C. (2006). Cultural differences in neural function associated with object processing. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 6(2), 102-109.
Han, S., & Humphreys, G. (2016). Self-construal: a cultural framework for brain function. Current Opinion in Psychology, 8, 10-14.
Han, S., & Northoff, G. (2008). Culture-sensitive neural substrates of human cognition: A transcultural neuroimaging approach. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(8), 646-654.
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Jiang, C., Varnum, M. E., Hou, Y., & Han, S. (2014). Distinct effects of self-construal priming on empathic neural responses in Chinese and Westerners. Social Neuroscience, 9(2), 130-138.
Kitayama, S., & Uskul, A. K. (2011). Culture, mind, and the brain: Current evidence and future directions. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 419-449.
Kitayama, S., & Park, J. (2010). Cultural neuroscience of the self: understanding the social grounding of the brain. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 5(2-3), 111-129.
Maguire EA, Gadian DG, Johnsrude IS, Good CD, Ashburner J, Frackowiak RS, et al. (2000). Navigation-related structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 97:4398–4403.
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Obhi, S. S., Hogeveen, J., & Pascual-Leone, A. (2011). Resonating with others: the effects of self-construal type on motor cortical output. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(41), 14531-14535.
Park, D. C., & Huang, C. M. (2010). Culture wires the brain: A cognitive neuroscience perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(4), 391-400.
Tang, Y., Zhang, W., Chen, K., Feng, S., Ji, Y., Shen, J., ... & Liu, Y. (2006). Arithmetic processing in the brain shaped by cultures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(28), 10775-10780.
Varnum, M. E., Shi, Z., Chen, A., Qiu, J., & Han, S. (2014). When “Your” reward is the same as “My” reward: Self-construal priming shifts neural responses to own vs. friends' rewards. NeuroImage, 87, 164-169.
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Yes, in continual of The Science of Happiness from my course I took at edx.org I bring you another excerise of self loving to do! It does not take long and you may find yourself in awe! Love and Light everyone! Enjoy
This exercise asks you to write a letter to yourself expressing compassion for an aspect of yourself that you don’t like. Research suggests that people who respond with compassion to their own flaws and setbacks—rather than beating themselves up over them—experience greater physical and mental health.
First, identify something about yourself that makes you feel ashamed, insecure, or not good enough. It could be something related to your personality, behavior, abilities, relationships, or any other part of your life.
Once you identify something, write it down and describe how it makes you feel. Sad? Embarrassed? Angry? Try to be as honest as possible, keeping in mind that no one but you will see what you write.
The next step is to write a letter to yourself expressing compassion, understanding, and acceptance for the part of yourself that you dislike.
As you write, follow these guidelines:
1. Imagine that there is someone who loves and accepts you unconditionally for who you are. What would that person say to you about this part of yourself?
2. Remind yourself that everyone has things about themselves that they don’t like, and that no one is without flaws. Think about how many other people in the world are struggling with the same thing that you’re struggling with.
3. Consider the ways in which events that have happened in your life, the family environment you grew up in, or even your genes may have contributed to this negative aspect of yourself.
4. In a compassionate way, ask yourself whether there are things that you could do to improve or better cope with this negative aspect. Focus on how constructive changes could make you feel happier, healthier, or more fulfilled, and avoid judging yourself.
5. After writing the letter, put it down for a little while. Then come back to it later and read it again. It may be especially helpful to read it whenever you’re feeling bad about this aspect of yourself, as a reminder to be more self-compassionate.
Evidence that it works
Breines, J. G. & Chen, S. (2012). Self-compassion increases self-improvement motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18(9), 1133-1143.
Participants in an online study who wrote a compassionate paragraph to themselves regarding a personal weakness subsequently reported greater feelings of self-compassion. They also experienced other psychological benefits, such as greater motivation for self-improvement.
Other supporting evidence
Leary, M. R., Tate, E. B., Adams, C. E., Allen, A. B., & Hancock, J. (2007). Self-compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-relevant events: The implications of treating oneself kindly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 887-904.
Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. K. (2013). A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self-compassion program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(1), 28-44.
Shapira, L. B., & Mongrain, M. (2010). The benefits of self-compassion and optimism exercises for individuals vulnerable to depression. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 377-389.
Why it works
Self-compassion reduces painful feelings of shame and self-criticism that can compromise mental health and well-being and stand in the way of personal growth. Writing is a powerful way to cope with negative feelings and change the way you think about a difficult situation.
Writing in a self-compassionate way can help you replace your self-critical voice with a more compassionate one--one that comforts and reassures you rather than berating yourself for your shortcomings. It takes time and practice, but the more your write in this way, the more familiar and natural the compassionate voice will feel, and the easier it will be to remember to treat yourself kindly when you’re feeling down on yourself.
Juliana Breines, Ph.D., Brandeis University
Kristin Neff, Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin
I am chuckling about my choice of title for this week blog post. I kinda do feel very Leeloo at times and in a way the type of starseed For pop culture sake I am a bit like a Leeloo, no wonder why my husband loves that movie so much and I do as well. LOL The clicks in my head, but then again that is what this entire week has been about.
One of the main questions I get asked a lot is where do I get the knowledge I know. Did I learn it somewhere. What books did I read, etc. Most will be surprised, I don't read a lot of "new age" books. I have books. I use books for references. I know authors, but when I read them, the read is more of a validation of knowledge I have known all my life. It sounds kinda of cocky I know. But as a star seed our brains are wired very interesting. But to answer that question honestly, I get the information and my knowledge from source. It's already in my brain, it just get's accessed when I need to use it. Kinda like a computer accessing files.
Before my ataxia took over my body I was a multitasker like crazy. My thirst for knowledge was the same way. Well, it still is I am just a bit slower now, but the material I like to study are kinda wacky and random. I mean who takes a MIT to understand molecular biology and convert DNA sequence to RNA sequence to protein sequence by the great professor Eric S. Lander Take his Introduction to Biology- The Secret of Life if you want to challenge yourself. You will be folding proteins fun stuff! Okay slightly off topic but not really. But this is how my brain has always worked. I have more manuals and educational type books in my home than I have normal reading books. Kinda a star seed trait.
When I was a kid my books was George Orwell, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, with a mix of Nancy Drew. I loved them, because I was eager to solve them. I also was a lover of classics Lewis Carroll and Poe. As an adult I own books about Ram Dass, Buddhist teachings and more. But I only peer into them, when seeking help to get my point across or in need of inspiration.
I have been peeling away many layers of my star seed self. I knew I was a star seed as a child, because I never felt like I belong. I would hear stories from my father how my mother thought she was an alien herself. My father thinking she was bat shit crazy, so of course I kept my own feelings of feeling "alien" myself.
I saw arch angel Micheal as a child, he saved me more than once. I knew just growing up that things were not right. I did not have the kindest upbringing in my life. But I somehow managed to survive. I remember trying to run away one time when I was about 8th grade. I snuck out my window in the middle of the night, I just looked at the stars. I did not know where I was going to go, but it was freedom for a brief moment. And it was like the stars guided me back home, telling me, nope- you have to go back no matter. The sky and nature have always guided me. Just one of those other traits.
As I got older my I knew my dreams of becoming an astronaut was not going to be real, but I did join the service as a secret squirrel for a little while. I think that is when my own activation started. I started noticing people, and objects, and was in touch with my past lives. Basically in my 20s I kinda went coco puff crazy. I was vibing with the wrong and right people. Was pulled in way to many directions and had a few crash a burns. I would say more crashes than anything else. It happens. I was completely ungrounded. Also I was unaware of how old I was.
So we fast forward to my 40s. I turn 45 in January. And in the past 5 years I have been more in touch with my ancients than I have ever in my life. I have been able to transform the rest of my DNA that I need at this present time. I feel I am about 90% activated, and will never be at 100% because well that is pure source light. But in human form I will take the 90%. The funny thing about this all is I have had to go thru what I call the test by fire. Almost a test if I am worthy of being the key. And the past 5 years have been some very trying times in my life. I have love, lost, grieved, still grieving, joy, gratitude and many blessings. Yes, I am out weighting the negative, I am tipping my scales. That is what you have to do in life, tip your scales.
I had to figure out I am my own Fifth Element. I am the weapon that can fight off the evil that surrounds myself and other's around me. HEHE back to that Hamsa again. I am that divine light human form. I may not be fighting off a alien race to stop the great evil, I mean after all that is just a movie. But as a star seed I can tell you this, even thou that was just a movie, everyone has light within them, to stop hate. To promote peace, love and understanding. Our world needs that more now than ever. So take charge of your inner Leeloo and find your divine light. Become your own Fifth Element.
confessions of a starseed
Wisdom to be passed to the human race...