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Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 129-130

Culture, brain, and behavior: Exploring the links

1 Department of Psychiatry, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Enam Medical College and Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Date of Submission23-May-2021
Date of Decision13-Jun-2021
Date of Acceptance17-Jun-2021
Date of Web Publication21-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sujita Kumar Kar
Department of Psychiatry, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/iopn.iopn_43_21

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How to cite this article:
Kar SK, Yasir Arafat S M. Culture, brain, and behavior: Exploring the links. Indian J Psy Nsg 2021;18:129-30

How to cite this URL:
Kar SK, Yasir Arafat S M. Culture, brain, and behavior: Exploring the links. Indian J Psy Nsg [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jul 1];18:129-30. Available from: https://www.ijpn.in/text.asp?2021/18/2/129/332800

Dear Editor,

While culture differs across the nations, religions, and ages, it has an integral role in human society that significantly influences individual's values, feelings, and behaviors. It has been identified that some cultural aspects expressed at the individual or group level have a serious negative aftermath. As behavior is an important construct of mental well-being, it is worth analyzing the somehow destructive, however, culturally acceptable behaviors. Certain cultures, for example, sanction the consumption of substances such as alcohol and cannabis resulting in the damage of property, accidents, and crimes due to inappropriate consumptions. Certain festivals and cultural events lead to air and noise pollution, even lead to global warming, and pose a threat to the social and environmental integrity in the long run silently. In several other cultures, mass killing of animals and mass self-mutilation are seen in cultural-religious events.

It is important to analyze the attributes of such harmful, however, culturally acceptable behaviors. Some aspects should be evaluated

What can be a more rational way of celebrating the cultural event?

Is there any common deciding factor such as religion?

Whether such celebrations that were adopted centuries back, still hold any significance in the 21st century?

Is it essential to express cultural beliefs through unrestrained and reckless behaviors?

Could it be a learned behavior?

Whether such behaviors cause any form of societal benefits or individual benefits?

How disruptive behaviors could be prevented?

Cultural values need to be given due respect for social integration and harmony; but unfortunately, it is side lined and the power is overtaken by so-called madness. There is an urgent need to regulate self, through introspection, to understand the group (mass) psychology in the cultural context to understand the pathological behaviors and their effective control. There is also an urgency to demystify the cultural beliefs which result in the murder of a person in suspicion of the devil, reckless use of substances in the name of celebration, spreading noise pollution and air pollution by burning crackers, mass killing of animals to offer prayer, mass self-mutilation, and mass hysteria. There is a necessity to imbibe and grow with a safety culture for maintaining social integrity. Strong advocacy involving politicians, religious leaders, and social activists, is required for the protection of mental well-being in the current society.

According to the cultural neuroscience model, there is close interaction between the cultural values and genes, leading to shaping of human behavior through genetic modifications.[1] The culture–behavior–brain model explains the development of brain under cultural influence.[1] It also influences neuroplasticity, thereby allowing the development of culture-specific behaviors.[2] Behavior is the reflection of underlying brain process and culture has significant role in shaping the behavior through brain regulation. Humans are social animals and human behavior is learned through imitation and social learning. Mirror neuron system of the brain plays an important role in social learning, which suggests that the sociocultural behaviors might have a close association with the mirror neuron system.[3] Learning drives neuroplasticity, so also the social learning and it results in change in bodily adaptability.[4] Social behaviors (both adaptive and maladaptive) are the resultants changes in the brain plasticity through brain-environment interaction (through social learning). Sociocultural variations of behavior can be explained on the basis of variations in the cultural beliefs and behaviors that interact with brain differently in a regular manner.[5] Unlearning and relearning also happen through neuroplastic changes. Undesirable and maladaptive behaviors can be unlearned. Positive behaviors can be learned and relearned. Changes in the brain can be brought through appropriate behavioral modifications and following these processes regularly and consistently. Maladaptive behaviors can be modified possibly through modulating the brain activity. Interventions may target the cultural cults, individual's readiness to accept the cultural values, behavior that is influenced by the culture as well as the neural changes under influence of culture.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Han S, Ma Y. A culture-behavior-brain loop model of human development. Trends Cogn Sci 2015;19:666-76.  Back to cited text no. 1
McDermott R. Chapter 34-culture, brain, and behavior: The implications of neural plasticity and development on social contexts and political structures. In: Tibayrenc M, Ayala FJ, editors. On Human Nature. San Diego: Academic Press; 2017. p. 579-97.  Back to cited text no. 2
Whiten A, van de Waal E. Social learning, culture and the 'socio-cultural brain' of human and non-human primates. Neuroscience Biobehav Rev 2017;82:58-75.  Back to cited text no. 3
Fabry RE. The cerebral, extra-cerebral bodily, and socio-cultural dimensions of enculturated arithmetical cognition. Synthese 2020;197:3685-720.  Back to cited text no. 4
Kitayama S, Park J. Cultural neuroscience of the self: Understanding the social grounding of the brain. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2010;5:111-29.  Back to cited text no. 5


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