18 July 2007

Mirror Neurons Influenced by Culture

In a recent study by researchers at a UCLA neuroscience institute wanted to investigate the imprint of culture on the so-called mirror neuron network. Mirror neurons fire when an individual performs an action, but they also fire when someone watches another individual perform that same action. Neuroscientists believe this "mirroring" is the neural mechanism by which we can read the minds of other people and empathize with them.

When it comes to the influence of culture, they found that indeed, the mirror neuron network responds differently depending on whether we are looking at someone who shares our culture, or someone who doesn't.

Based on the research so far, it appears that neural systems supporting memory, empathy and general cognition encode information differently depending on who's giving the information -- a member of one's own cultural group, or a member of an out-group, and that ethnic in-group membership and a culturally learned motor repertoire more strongly influence the brain's responses to observed actions, specifically actions used in social communication.


1 comment:

Darkwingedfae said...

I have always wondered if there was a connection there. We had similar theories we discussed frequently in my bio-psychology classes in college.