How Cultures Impact The Brain and Expat Lives?


Frontotemporal degeneration

Image via Wikipedia

1-Basic concepts of cultural neurosciences

There is a lot of new research going on in the field of cultural neurosciences, looking at the relations existing between cultural dimensions and the brain’s activity referred by some scientists as  brain’s plasticity.

Tufts University psychologist  Dr Nalini Ambad conducted several studies suggesting that culture influences brain development.  In one of her article: Culture and the Brain,  she introduces the concept of culture mapping.:

Culture mapping can show how the same environment is processed differently by individuals from different cultures.

On the perception of self for example,  American and  Japanese people  have a totally different view. Americans tend to be assertive and put the individual first while Japanese put the harmony of the group at their first priority resulting in activation of different parts of the brain in social interactions.

There are at least three sources of cultural universals and differences: genetic commonality or difference, cultural learning mediated by brain plasticity, and the degree of similarity between cultural environments.

You can also listen to Dr Nalini Ambad podcast on “The Neuroscience of Culture.”


2-What are the implications for expatriates ?

  • Selecting the right people for international assignments:  Global companies should start to look how to use that knowledge to select individuals who have the right cultural mindset and “wires” acquired through experiences abroad.
  • What are the best ways  of teaching cross-cultural communication?
  • Is there universal leadership skills ?
  • Raising global citizens: The question that all expat parents should ask themselves is what is the true impact on the development of their children exposed to various cultures and languages  when the brain is at different stages of development ?

There is a lot more  unanswered questions regarding the future for our children (the TCKs) ? The long-term psychological impact for serial expats like me ? The role of social media and mobile technologies in the dissemination of universal values ?

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4 thoughts on “How Cultures Impact The Brain and Expat Lives?

  1. Stan Faryna August 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm Reply

    Interesting blog post. It raises many questions.

    What universal values have you identified in your expat experience?

  2. […]  How Cultures Impact The Brain and Expat Lives? […]

  3. […] via Anne Egros at Zestnzen […]

  4. […] related to their fields of expertise. There is a lot of new research going on in the field of cultural neurosciences, looking at the relations existing between cultural dimensions and the brain’s […]

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