About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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Brain Waves

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September 14, 2005

Chinese Forest or American Tree

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Cultural differences appear to exist between how Chinese and Americans perceive and remember visual stimuli. New research conducted by Richard Nisbett, a social psychologist and author of the Geography of Thought, has shown that Chinese and American students differ in the way they look at and remember a complex visual scene. Science summarized the experiment in the following way:

"Wearing headsets with a built-in eye movement tracker, 25 American and 27 Chinese graduate students were asked to observe 36 pictures -- each with an object against a realistic background. The Americans zoomed in on the foreground object earlier and for a longer time than did the Chinese who spent more time taking in the background and less time studying the object. The result, the Chinese tended to recall background more accurately, whereas Americans remember more about the central object."

This research could have interesting implications for how different neurotechnologies could impact cultures in unintended ways. But before we jump to any conclusions I'd like to see a larger study done that included young children to see how and when this behavior is emerges.

For those in the Philadelphia area, I'll be giving a talk on Monday at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at noon. Come discuss our emerging neurosociety with me and many others.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Perception Shift


1. Ward on September 14, 2005 3:08 PM writes...

My first reaction to this is that it would be interesting to determine if learning a pictographic alphabet versus our letters could have an effect on perception. Study could have all sorts of ramifications for brain development.

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