How the Brain and Culture Interact?

How the brain and culture interact

A new book called The Encultured Brain: An Introduction to Neuroanthropology by Daniel H. Lende and Greg Downey introduces a new approach to my discipline of anthropology, and in fact I think this approach relates to all the sciences that humans study. As the name suggests, the neuroanthropology gist is to study the interaction of human culture and human brains. Once one begins to do this, one of the oldest and most useless questions in the human sciences begins to dissolve. This question is: which is more important in determining human behavior, nature or nurture? As soon as one begins to look at how the brain interacts with culture, it is clear that it is time to remove this question.

Oddly, the best way I can explain this is to point to something I recently read about a different species. Right (properly) in a wonderful book on dogs, Dogs, Raymond and Lorna Coppinger point out that the tenfold growth of a puppy’s brain is after birth almost entirely due to the connections between the original cells (rather than growth in the original number of cells). They write: “Of all brain cells present at birth, a large number are not connected or connected together. What happens during the development of the puppy is the wiring pattern of the neurons ”. (p.111) and – this is the crucial point: What you get by cable depends on what is happening in the environment. The Coppingers make this point to explain why, And if you think this is somewhat intriguing, dogs can be trained to save sheep from predators, rather than eating them. Basically, if a dog grows up around sheep as its brain is forming, it will come to sheep as its friends. And that behavior cannot be unlearned. It is biological, imprinted, but this behavior is not determined by genes alone. Rather, it is epigenetic, a product of the dog’s brain and the environment working together. The implication is, in the words of the Coppingers once again, “Understanding brain growth once and for all should dispel the nature / nurture controversy. Never, it’s never either nature or nurture, but always both at the same time. ”(P. 113) instead of eating them. Basically, if a dog grows up around sheep as its brain is forming, it will come to sheep as its friends. And that behavior cannot be unlearned. It is biological, imprinted, but this behavior is not determined by genes alone. Rather, it is epigenetic, a product of the dog’s brain and the environment working together. The implication is, in the words of the Coppingers once again, “Understanding brain growth once and for all should dispel the nature / nurture controversy. 

Never, it’s never either nature or nurture, but always both at the same time. ”(P. 113) instead of eating them. Basically, if a dog grows up around sheep as its brain is forming, it will come to sheep as its friends. And that behavior cannot be unlearned. It is biological, imprinted, but this behavior is not determined by genes alone. Rather, it is epigenetic, a product of the dog’s brain and the environment working together. The implication is, in the words of the Coppingers once again, “Understanding brain growth once and for all should dispel the nature / nurture controversy. Never, it’s never either nature or nurture, but always both at the same time. ”(P. 113) printed, but this behavior is not determined by genes alone. Rather, it is epigenetic, a product of the dog’s brain and the environment working together.

 The implication is, in the words of the Coppingers once again, “Understanding brain growth once and for all should dispel the nature / nurture controversy. Never, it’s never either nature or nurture, but always both at the same time. ”(P. 113) printed, but this behavior is not determined by genes alone. Rather, it is epigenetic, a product of the dog’s brain and the environment working together. The implication is, in the words of the Coppingers once again, “Understanding brain growth once and for all should dispel the nature / nurture controversy. Never, it’s never either nature or nurture, but always both at the same time. ”(P. 113)

Humans, of course, have much more complex brains than dogs. However, epigenetic processes are also important for understanding how humans adapt to their environments. Even these basic, seemingly physical processes like seeing, balance, and the course of illness can be conditioned by the environment in which the brain develops. This means that cultural factors become part of the physical makeup of the mind. And this process does not stop after the brain is fully mature. Unlike dogs, old humans can learn new tricks. What neuroanthropology brings us is that an appreciation for learning how deeply human can be rooted. Lende and Downey write “Neural adaptation systems through long-term refinement and remodeling, leading to what we see as deep inculturation. Through systematic change in the nervous system, the human body learns to direct itself. Cultural concepts and meaning being neurological anatomy. “(P. 37)

Ultimately, how we are nurtured-throughout our lives creates not only ideas and values, but influences our brains at the cellular level. Our upbringing becomes part of us, it becomes nature. In the coming years, I predict that the implications of this fact will have revolutionary implications for issues such as the treatment of mental illness, education, policies for dealing with poverty, and intercultural understanding.

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