The Encultured Brain: Why Neuroanthropology? Why Now?

Piers YoungAsides2 Comments

Increasingly, neuroscientists are finding evidence of functional differences in brain activity and architecture between cultural groups, occupations, and individuals with different skill sets. The implication for neuroanthropology is obvious: forms of enculturation, social norms, training regimens, ritual, and patterns of experience shape how our brains work and are structured. But the predominant reason that culture becomes embodied, even though many anthropologists overlook it, is that neuroanatomy inherently makes experience material. Without material change in the brain, learning, memory, maturation, and even trauma could not happen. Neural systems adapt through long-term refinement and remodeling, which leads to deep enculturation. Through systematic change in the nervous system, the human body learns to orchestrate itself as well as it eventually does. Cultural concepts and meanings become anatomy.

Source: here


2 Comments on “The Encultured Brain: Why Neuroanthropology? Why Now?”

  1. I read the entire article – excellent argumentation.
    As our brain activity and functions are culturally shaped – even if we are not aware of that – I find it interesting to think of how biases stem, how they can be overcome and how certain values (such as empathy) can be “taught”.

  2. It’s well written, isn’t it? Very much agree that the idea of e.g. teaching empathy is intriguing.

    For me, it seems to give some scientific ‘oomph’ to things educators already seem to have learned/intuited, such as that learning another language is good for you (n that you literally learn to think differently) and breadth of interest is important.

    It certainly makes me think about the culture of learning in schools & how important the unwritten, un-“taught” approaches to education are.

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