Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sensitive Persons’ Perception Moderates Responses Based On Culture

05.05.2010
Building on previous brain imaging research that revealed cultural influences play a role in neural activation during perception, Arthur Aron, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Stony Brook University, and colleagues, completed a study that suggests individuals who are highly sensitive have cognitive responses that appear to not be influenced by culture at all.

Reported in advance online in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, and scheduled for print in the June issue, the study could serve as a foundation for the direction of study in the emerging field of cultural neuroscience.

“Our data suggest that some categories of individuals, based on their natural traits, are less influenced by their cultural context than others,” says Dr. Aron. He adds that the study is the first to analyze how a basic temperament/personality trait, called sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), interacts with culture and neural responses.

SPS is characterized by sensitivity to both internal and external stimuli, including social and emotional cues. Scientists estimate that something like high sensitivity is found in approximately 20 percent of more than 100 species, from fruit flies and fish to canines and primates and has evolved as a particular survival strategy that differs from the majority. The standard measure in humans is the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Scale, previously developed by Dr. Aron and his wife, Dr. Elaine Aron. An example of one item on the HSP scale is “do you seem to be aware of subtleties in your environment.”

Dr. Aron says those who score high on the scale report being easily overwhelmed when too much is happening, startle easily, are conscientious, enjoy the arts more, and have a lower pain threshold. They are more emotionally reactive and more affected by the environment compared to those who score low on the scale.

The researchers measured SPS in 10 East Asian individuals temporarily in the U.S. and and 10 Americans of Western-European ancestry. In a previous study, these same 20 individuals had undergone brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing a cognitive task of comparing the length of lines inside boxes. The participants’ responses to the task tested their perception of the independence versus interdependence of objects as the fMRI measured the neural basis of their responses.

The major finding of that study was that the frontal-parietal brain region (see Figure) known to be engaged during attention-demanding tasks was more activated for East Asians when making judgments ignoring context, not their specialty, but was more activated for Americans when making judgments when they had to take context into account, not their specialty. This discovery, says Dr. Aron, illustrated that each group engaged this attention system more strongly during a task more difficult for them because it is not generally supported by their cultural context. That is, even when doing a simple, abstract cognitive task, culture influences perception.

In the SPS study, Dr. Aron and colleagues took the brain activations in these two groups from the previous study and considered them in light of the SPS scores of the same individuals. They found SPS as a trait yielded a very clear pattern of results:

“The influence of culture on effortful perception was especially strong for those who scored low on the scale measuring sensitivity, but for those who scored high on the measure (highly sensitive individuals), there was no cultural difference at all,” says Dr. Aron. Regarding the fMRI, Dr Aron adds: “Culture did not influence the degree of activation of highly sensitive individuals’ brains when doing the two kinds of perceptual tasks used in the previous study. Also, how much they identified with their culture had no effect. It was as if, for them, culture was not an influence on their perception.”

Dr. Aron emphasized that the new research suggests that characteristics possessed by high SPS individuals, such as being emotionally reactive or conscientious, actually flow out of or are side effects of the overriding feature of processing information more thoroughly than low SPS individuals.

While the results showed a clear, statistically significant connection between SPS, cognitive processing, and culturally-based thinking, Dr. Aron indicates that the small numbers of participants does not rule out the possibility that these results could be sample specific, so conclusions must be taken as preliminary and only as suggestive. Replications of the study and larger sample sizes, he adds, would help to further the research.

Co-authors of the study titled, “Temperament trait of sensory processing sensitivity moderates cultural differences in neural response,” include: Sarah Ketay, Ph.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Trey Heddan, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., Stony Brook University; Hazel Rose Markus, Ph.D., Stanford University, and John D.E. Gabrieli, MIT.

The study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

Donna Bannon | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.stonybrook.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>