The Bicultural Brain?: Collaborations at the Intersections of Cultural Psychology & Neuroscience

Sharon G. Goto, Ph. D. and Richard S. Lewis, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology, Pomona College

Tuesday, February 24th,
4:15 PM
Science Center 101

Cultural differences in behavior and cognition are well documented in the literature. Research suggests that East Asians are behaviorally more sensitive to contextual information (e.g., Leung & Bond, 1984), and allocate greater attention to background objects than European Americans (e.g., Masuda & Nisbett, 2001; Kitayama, Duffy, Kawamura, & Larsen, 2003). We attempt to bridge the behavioral and cognitive cross cultural literatures by presenting a series of studies that look at the relationship between culture and the use of context using electrophysiological measures. We will present some published work using the novelty P3 ERP design, used to investigate cultural differences in contextually novel stimuli (Lewis, Goto, & Kong, 2008), as well as some new studies using an N400 ERP design (Goto et al., 2009) to measure the degree to which Asian Americans and European Americans responded to semantic and affective incongruity between the target object and the incidental processing of background scenes. Implications for using neural measures to understand cultural differences in cognition, more dynamic mechanisms of bicultural frame switching, and the trains and tribulations of collaborations across disciplines will be discussed.