Sylvie Berthoz, Lydia Pouga, and Michele Wessa
Alexithymia is a multifaceted personality construct characterized by the impaired ability to reflect on and regulate one’s own emotions. This chapter refers to a wide range of domains of investigation in the field of social neuroscience to capture and specify the processes that could account for the observed associations between such an inability to monitor and self-regulate emotions and altered social understanding and interactions. To this end, it provides empirical support for considering alexithymia as a relevant model to investigate the links between brain, cognition and behavior, notably not only to delineate potential pathways between dysfunctional cerebral circuits, poor emotional insight, and intersubjectivity, but also to further explore their links with self-oriented and other-oriented harming behaviors.
Stephanie D. Preston and Frans B. M. de Waal
This chapter reviews the ultimate and proximate levels of analysis on altruism in humans, hoping to create an overarching framework that places each within a larger context that can stimulate human research informed by extensive empirical research in animals. The available neuroscientific evidence will be reviewed at the end, demonstrating consistently that decisions to help are mediated through overlapping decision and reward circuits that integrate emotional and contextual information into a unified somatic state that guides decisions to help. The chapter first defines the important terms, reviews in brief the most common and widely used biological models of altruism, and then provides evidence for these models. After this, the proximate mechanism will be explicated, largely through indirect evidence regarding the motivational and neural circuits thought to underlie decisions to help. The chapter ends with recommendations for future research to provide more direct evidence for the proximate mechanism, using more ecological tasks that elicit altruistic tendencies while being amenable to concurrent recording with neuroscientific tools.
Andrea L. Glenn and Adrian Raine
Neuroscience research is beginning to uncover significant neurobiological impairments in antisocial, violent, and aggressive groups. The neurophysiologic basis of antisocial behavior is complex—many structures have been implicated, each of which may be related to antisocial behavior in different ways. Research in social neuroscience is helping us to better understand the role of many of these regions in normal social behavior, and thus why abnormality would result in a disruption of appropriate social behavior. This chapter highlights neuroscience data on antisocial individuals and provides interpretation based on the knowledge that has been gained in recent years in the field of social neuroscience.
Bruno Wicker and Marie Gomot
This chapter reviews major recent findings in Asperger Syndrome (AS), ranging from behavior to neurobiology, and focusing both on social cognitive and executive processes and their interactions. The study of AS benefits from several lines of research on one hand, but on the other hand a lot of controversy remains as to whether the results of individual studies can be generalized to the entire AS population. This obviously highlights the need for further extensive research. But it also demonstrates a very hopeful and intense period for research aiming at: 1) better characterizing the clinical, behavioral, and cognitive phenotypes; 2) building a new conceptual framework through an integrative approach mixing emotional/social cognition and other areas of cognition; and 3) progressively supplanting the localizationism realm by applying recent massive advances in neuroimaging techniques and analysis that explore connectivity and functional interactions in large scale dynamic brain networks.
Christopher Summerfield and Tobias Egner
This chapter reviews formal models of the decision process in humans and other primates, and discusses divergent accounts of how attention might intervene to bias or facilitate judgements about sensory stimuli. The review covers established decision-theoretic models, such as signal detection theory and serial sampling models, and other computational accounts that draw upon psychophysical and neurobiological mechanisms of early vision. It considers whether such decisions are limited by attentional capacity, or by noise, as suggested by normative models of choice. The authors revisit a debate concerning whether attention acts to boost inputs, enhance activity, or reduce noise. Finally, the authors consider the relationship between attention and expectation in perceptual decision-making.
William A. Cunningham, Ingrid Johnsen Haas, and Andrew Jahn
This chapter reviews social neuroscience research that links social psychological attitudes and evaluative processes to their presumed neural bases. The chapter is organized into four parts. The first section discusses how attitude representations are transformed into evaluative states that can be used to guide thought and action. The next two sections address the related processes of attitude learning and change. The final section discusses applications of these concepts for the study of prejudice and political behavior.
This chapter discusses brain development during childhood and adolescence, based on findings obtained with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI contributed a wealth of information about the adolescent brain, documenting, in particular, its continuing structural maturation and beginning to elucidate interesting changes in its functional organization. Several large-scale MR-based studies of childhood and adolescence are under way, promising to deliver new insights into neural mechanisms underlying cognitive and emotional development during adolescence and, most importantly, to identify possible genetic and environmental influences on brain maturation and on cognitive and socio-emotional development during childhood and adolescence.
Meghana Bhatt and Colin F. Camerer
This chapter focuses on some emerging elements of a neuroscientific basis for behavioral game theory. The premise of this chapter is that game theory can be useful in helping to elucidate the neural basis of strategic thinking. The great strength of game theory is that it offers precision in defining what players are likely to do and suggesting algorithms of reasoning and learning. Whether people are using these algorithms can be estimated from behavior and from psychological observables (such as response times and eye tracking of attention), and used as parametric regressors to identify candidate brain circuits that appear to encode those regressors.
Franklin Chang and Hartmut Fitz
Sentence production involves the complex interaction of meanings, words, and structures. These interactions are language-specific and to understand them, it is useful to build computational models of production that learn their internal representations. This chapter explores how a particular connectionist-learning model called the Dual-path model explains a range of sentence production behaviors, such as structural priming, heavy NP shift, and lexical-conceptual accessibility in structural choice. The model shows how learning can play an important role in explaining adult processing in different languages. This model is contrasted with other computational approaches to understand the strengths and weakness of each method.
Joan Y. Chiao, Shu-Chen Li, Rebecca Seligman, and Robert Turner
The chapters in this scholarly collection represent the foundations of the conceptual and empirical approaches in cultural neuroscience and the potential for this field to address outstanding questions in population health disparities. Closing the gap in population health disparities represents an important opportunity and challenge for scholars and public policy makers. To provide equity in access and quality of health care irrespective of culture, race and ethnicity across geography, it is important to understand both 1) the etiology underlying population disparities in mental health and 2) the factors that contribute to access and quality of health care and treatment. Cultural neuroscience is a field that contributes to both endeavors.
Angela H. Gutchess and Sarah Huff
This chapter reviews the literature on the effects of culture on memory, focusing on the comparison of Easterners and Westerners. The chapter opens with a consideration of the mechanisms through which culture can impact memory and then reviews the cognitive biases and strategies that can shape memory, including memory for objects versus background, memory for perceptual details, source memory, the use of categories in memory, and false memory. Next, the chapter presents evidence for cross-cultural differences in self-relevant, autobiographical, and emotional memory, and it discusses the neuroimaging literature broadly related to differences in self-construals across cultures. Throughout, the chapter adopts a developmental perspective with a focus on older adulthood, and it closes with a consideration of the health relevance of the study of memory across cultures with age.
Beatrice de Gelder and Elisabeth M.J. Huis In 'T Veld
As our environment becomes increasingly more international, we are interacting increasingly more with people from different cultures. During social interactions, it is important to respond appropriately to the cues that are relevant in a given situation. People are expected to behave in a suitable way to avoid offending others. For example, an appropriate response to a greeting can avoid much misunderstanding. Cultural variations have often been named as possible factors for explaining differences in processing emotions. Because culture is in part about regulating social interaction, one expects to find that cultural norms define display rules that are at least characteristic of the daily expressions of emotions. This chapter addresses whether there are important cultural factors that determine whole-body expressions of emotion, how they are perceived, how they are displayed, and what they are.
Steven J. Morrison, Steven M. Demorest, and Marcus T. Pearce
Although music is a universal phenomenon, the structural features that characterize specific music traditions reflect the unique cultures in which those traditions reside. Consequently, encounters with music from other cultures can present difficulties if the structures and patterns of that music are too different from those of one’s home culture. This chapter proposes cultural distance as a way to conceptualize the cognitive dimension of cross-cultural music interactions. It hypothesizes that an individual’s efficacy at processing a particular culture’s music depends on the degree to which the statistical patterns of pitch and rhythm in that tradition resemble those of one’s own music. The chapter employs a computational model (IDyOM) to determine the intervallic and rhythmic patterns within culture-specific music corpora and the extent of difference between cultures and between specific pieces within a culture. This computational approach offers a more fine-grained correlational means for modeling similarities and differences in cross-cultural music cognition research.
Cultural Neuroscience and Neurophilosophy: Does the Neural Code Allow for the Brain’s Enculturation?
Many studies show the cultural dependence of the brain’s neural activity, but the underlying mechanisms of such “enculturation of brain” are unclear. How it is possible for the neural activity to be so strongly dependent on and shaped by the cultural context? Conceptually, this raises the question for the concept of culture and its relationship to the brain and what exactly is meant by “enculturation of brain.” Empirically, the enculturation of brain raises the more general and basic question of how stimuli and their respective cultural context are encoded into neural activity. I suggest a statistically based coding strategy that encodes the stimuli’s statistical frequency distribution rather than the single stimuli into neural activity. The cultural dependence of neural activity may be traced back to the brain’s neural code and its particular encoding strategy, the encoding of the stimuli’s natural and sociocultural statistics, which may account for the enculturation of brain.
Dan J. Stein, Joan Y. Chiao, and Jack van Honk
South Africa may be a particularly useful exemplar with which to consider some of the potential promises and pitfalls of cultural neuroscience. This chapter draws on our experience as scientists who have worked in the South African context, who have used both neuroscientific and social science methodologies, and who have wondered how best to integrate these often quite different perspectives. We begin by proposing a heuristic conceptual framework that articulates “classical,” “critical,” and “integrative” approaches to cultural neuroscience, and we then use this to exemplify promises and pitfalls of cultural neuroscience in South Africa and to map out a research agenda for the future.
Alissa J. Mrazek, Tokiko Harada, and Joan Y. Chiao
Identity development is conceptualized as a series of distinct stages in the developmental pathway, including acquisition of self-knowledge, establishment of independence and personal continuity, and acquisition of a sense of affiliation. For those negotiating more than one cultural/racial/ethnic identity, a unique set of stages may be undertaken in the development of identity, particularly during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Although the sociocultural factors that shape identity development are relatively well-conceptualized, much less well understood are the biological mechanisms that facilitate identity development throughout the lifespan for both majority and minority group members. This chapter discusses sociocultural and biological pathways of identity development through the lens of cultural neuroscience, elucidating how dynamic culture-biology interactions shape the development of social identity in majority and minority group members and the etiology underlying adaptive social development in people living in monocultural and diverse multicultural communities.
Bobby K. Cheon and Ying-yi Hong
Culture defines how groups, and the individuals situated within them, conceptualize and navigate relationships with in-group and out-group members. How diversity in these group processes and their neural substrates emerge remains an open question. Diversity in intergroup processes may have arisen from perceived threats from the environment. Groups in environments that present greater collective uncertainties and threats may have been more likely to adopt shared norms, practices, and institutions that promote and reinforce cohesion, coordination, and the prioritization of the welfare of in-groups over out-groups—contributing to cultural diversity in intergroup bias. This cultural diversity is proposed to be supported by differential pressure across environments on neurobiological systems that regulate responsiveness to threats and facilitate affiliation with in-groups. These two processes may mutually reinforce and co-construct one another, functioning to translate perceived threats from the environment into the cultural variations observed in the neural and behavioral manifestations of intergroup bias.
Joan Y. Chiao and Vani A. Mathur
Population health disparities exist in the prevalence of pain throughout the world due to social and biological factors. We examine the etiology of population health disparities in pain prevalence with the cultural neuroscience model. We review empirical evidence for population health disparities in acute and chronic pain, particularly in people from the United States of different racial and ethnic heritages. We discuss how culture, race, and ethnicity affect pain and empathy at the level of neurobiology as well as how an understanding of the mechanisms underlying population health disparities in pain can lead to more effective treatments in multicultural and cross-cultural communities. Implications for understanding the etiology of pain prevalence from a cultural neuroscience perspective for public health are discussed.
Shihui Han and Yina Ma
Self-reflection characterizes human thoughts. How the brain reflects on the self and relevant emotional consequences, however, varies significantly across individuals. This chapter discusses whether and how sociocultural/sensory experiences and biological factors, such as genes, influence the neural correlates of reflection on the self and close others. By presenting the findings of transcultural and cultural priming neuroimaging studies and the findings of imaging genetics, we suggest that both sensory and sociocultural experiences shape the pattern of neural activity involved in the cognitive processes during self-reflection. Genetic makeup, however, produces novel effects on the neural activity underlying the emotional consequences of self-reflection. The findings provide a cultural neuroscience framework for understanding of self-reflection and its relationship with mental health.
Joan Y. Chiao
This chapter presents an introduction to cultural neuroscience. Cultural neuroscience is an emerging research discipline that investigates cultural variation in psychological, neural, and genomic processes as a means of articulating the bidirectional relationship of these processes and their emergent properties. Research in cultural neuroscience is motivated by two intriguing questions of human nature: How do cultural traits (e.g., values, beliefs, practices) shape neurobiology (e.g., genetic and neural processes) and behavior; and how do neurobiological mechanisms (e.g., genetic and neural processes) facilitate the emergence and transmission of cultural traits?