The proposed studies are designed to yield benchmark contributions to the study of the neuroscience of culture and cognition, while simultaneously investigating critically important questions about the generality of neurocognitive aging across cultures. Although there is considerable behavioral evidence that there are differences in organization of perceptual and memory processes between Eastern and Western cultures, the neural activations and organization underlying these differences are unexplored. Briefly, behavioral evidence suggests that due to cultural norms that focus on relationships and group function, East Asians develop a bias to monitor their environment more than Westerners do, resulting in a greater reliance on context and holistic encoding on cognitive tasks. In contrast, the individualistic society of Westerners results in more attention to focal objects and analytic processing of information. Given these observed behavioral differences across cultures, the first aim of the present proposal is to evaluate how culture sculpts neural activity in young adults. Specifically, we hypothesize that young adults in East Asian cultures, when studying complex pictures, will show heightened engagement of medial temporal structures and areas specialized for relational and contextual processing, whereas Americans will engage frontal structures associated with strategic, analytic processing. A second goal of the research is to understand neurocognitive aging cross-culturally, and determine whether patterns of decreased hippocampal/increased frontal recruitment that occur in older Western samples are mirrored in Asian samples. We propose a series of studies that will allow us to assess the interplay between experience (through culture) and neurobiology (through aging) in sculpting the neurocognitive system. The proposed studies also permit a precise evaluation of key theories about compensatory neural activations in the neurocognitive aging.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section (SPIP)
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Wagster, Molly V
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University of Texas-Dallas
Other Domestic Higher Education
United States
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Goh, Joshua O S; Hebrank, Andrew C; Sutton, Bradley P et al. (2013) Culture-related differences in default network activity during visuo-spatial judgments. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 8:134-42
Huang, Chih-Mao; Park, Denise (2013) Cultural influences on Facebook photographs. Int J Psychol 48:334-43
Huang, Chih-Mao; Polk, Thad A; Goh, Joshua O et al. (2012) Both left and right posterior parietal activations contribute to compensatory processes in normal aging. Neuropsychologia 50:55-66
Chee, Michael Wei Liang; Zheng, Hui; Goh, Joshua Oon Soo et al. (2011) Brain structure in young and old East Asians and Westerners: comparisons of structural volume and cortical thickness. J Cogn Neurosci 23:1065-79
Goh, Joshua O S; Leshikar, Eric D; Sutton, Bradley P et al. (2010) Culture differences in neural processing of faces and houses in the ventral visual cortex. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 5:227-35
Jenkins, Lucas J; Yang, Yung-Jui; Goh, Joshua et al. (2010) Cultural differences in the lateral occipital complex while viewing incongruent scenes. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 5:236-41
Leshikar, Eric D; Gutchess, Angela H; Hebrank, Andrew C et al. (2010) The impact of increased relational encoding demands on frontal and hippocampal function in older adults. Cortex 46:507-21
Park, Denise C; Huang, Chih-Mao (2010) Culture Wires the Brain: A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective. Perspect Psychol Sci 5:391-400
Goh, Joshua O; Tan, Jiat Chow; Park, Denise C (2009) Culture modulates eye-movements to visual novelty. PLoS One 4:e8238
Sutton, Bradley P; Goh, Joshua; Hebrank, Andrew et al. (2008) Investigation and validation of intersite fMRI studies using the same imaging hardware. J Magn Reson Imaging 28:21-8

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