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Prog Brain Res. 2009;178:137-50. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(09)17809-3.

Cultural influences on memory.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, USA.


Research reveals dramatic differences in the ways that people from different cultures perceive the world around them. Individuals from Western cultures tend to focus on that which is object-based, categorically related, or self-relevant whereas people from Eastern cultures tend to focus more on contextual details, similarities, and group-relevant information. These different ways of perceiving the world suggest that culture operates as a lens that directs attention and filters the processing of the environment into memory. The present review describes the behavioral and neural studies exploring the contribution of culture to long-term memory and related processes. By reviewing the extant data on the role of various neural regions in memory and considering unifying frameworks such as a memory specificity approach, we identify some promising directions for future research.

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