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date: 23 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Cultural neuroscience explores the interplay between the social transmission of knowledge and the functional organization of the nervous system. However, much current cultural neuroscience simplifies culture into categories and constructs. The operationalization of culture as categories and traits that can be measured using questionnaires or priming techniques often lacks cultural validity. Moreover, treatment of culture as a set of fixed and even hard-wired traits has the potential to reify and essentialize differences between groups that are better understood as culturally constructed, fluid, and context-dependent. We argue that culture is better conceived of in terms of interactional processes rather than categories and demonstrate how a more nuanced understanding of culture in cultural neuroscience can contribute to an understanding of mind, self, and emotion as embodied, socially embedded, and situated or enacted in specific contexts, opening up new directions for research with greater potential relevance to issues of health and social disparity.

Keywords: Culture concept, cultural validity, ecology of mind, social categories, social determinants of health

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