Culture Changes How Brains Work


International online marketers quickly learn that culture affects the way their audience reads online.  Visual images are processed differently.

Businesses targeting broad international audiences with one website need to pay particular attention to the images and visual perceptions of their websites.  And this is part of the reason why country-specific websites provide stronger marketing.

Brains And Cultural Differences

There was an interesting article in the Get International Clients Sunday Blog Carnival a couple of weeks ago. Stephanie West Allen wrote an article on the ways our brains can work differently in different cultures.

In her article, Stephanie reports on recent research that shows how a group of native Asians and native English speakers did simple mathematical equations using different parts of their brains.

Now this brought two of my past experiences to mind.

Brains Can Function Differently

When I first moved to Europe, I worked in a Malaysian Embassy.  It was my solution for working in Switzerland without a work permit while attending night school.

I spent four years working there.   Embassy life also included regular public relations events.  Often twice a week.

After spending some time with this group of Malaysians, there were some fundamental cultural differences that became obvious.

The one that fascinated me the most, was their emotion difference compared to mine concerning death.  I tried to discern a logical flow to their reasoning, but just could not.

After four years, I concluded that our brains simply did not process certain things the same way.

And What About Cultural Environments

After reading Stephanie’s article, I thought of my conclusion above, and compared this to another of my own personal conclusions.

How could I explain how some of the North African men I knew treated women and me in particular.

Even if we are both foreigners living in a foreign country for over 20 years, it takes less than an hours conversation for me to feel the difference.  The difference in how these men treat women compared to men from any other country, either European, Asian, or American.

My conclusion used to be that it was purely cultural and being brought up in a different environment.

Does Culture Change The Brain

But, now I’m wondering just how much culture can change how the brain functions.


  • Where does cross-cultural communication fit into this?
  • Are there any consequences on international web marketing?
  • How does the cultural differences in brain function compare with young generations across all cultures, more used to internet and social media?

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts and comments below.

Photos from Shutterstock.

  Filed under: Cross-Cultural Communication

Cindy King