Cultures differ in the ability to enhance affective neural responses

Soc Neurosci. 2017 Oct;12(5):594-603. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2016.1209239. Epub 2016 Jul 16.


The present study (N = 55) used an event-related potential paradigm to investigate whether cultures differ in the ability to upregulate affective responses. Using stimuli selected from the International Affective Picture System, we found that European-Americans (N = 29) enhanced central-parietal late positive potential (LPP) (400-800 ms post-stimulus) responses to affective stimuli when instructed to do so, whereas East Asians (N = 26) did not. We observed cultural differences in the ability to enhance central-parietal LPP responses for both positively and negativelyvalenced stimuli, and the ability to enhance these two types of responses was positively correlated for Americans but negatively for East Asians. These results are consistent with the notion that cultural variations in norms and values regarding affective expression and experiences shape how the brain regulates emotions.

Keywords: Culture; ERP; LPP; cultural neuroscience; emotion regulation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Culture*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Far East
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Self Report
  • United States
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Volition / physiology
  • Young Adult