Cultural background shapes mental associations and brain activity elicited during listening to a narrative
Iiro Jaaskelainen1, Maria Hakonen1, Annika Hulten1, Arsi Ikäheimonen1, Fa-Hsuan Lin2, Anastasia Lowe1, Mikko Sams1, Miika Koskinen3; 1Aalto University School of Science, Espoo, Finland, 2Taiwan National University, Taipei, Taiwan, 3University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
We studied whether cultural differences in familial background shape how the brain processes a narrative, as well as how the narrative is interpreted. We recruited a total of 48 healthy volunteers who were all fluent in Finnish. Half of the subjects had both parents with Finnish cultural background. For the other half of the subjects, either one or both parents were with Russian cultural background. The subjects listened to a 71 min narrative depicting life of two protagonists, one with Finnish and the other with Russian cultural background, during ultra-fast fMRI combining dynamic inverse imaging and simultaneous multi-slice excitation to achieve 5x5x7-mm whole-brain acquisition with a TR of 0.1 sec. Afterwards, the narrative was replayed in 101 segments to the subjects, and they were asked to list words that best described what the narrative had brought to their minds at the end of each segment while they had been listening to the narrative during neuroimaging. The two subject groups produced qualitatively different word associations. Further, there were significant between-group differences in inter-subject correlation of brain hemodynamic activity in multiple brain regions, including lateral temporal, medial prefrontal, and medial parietal structures. Taken together, these results show that cultural differences in familial background shaped both how the subjects heard the narrative and how their brains processed it.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Semantic