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How Collective Representations Can Change the Structure of the Brain

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Culture not only influences human psychology and perceptions of self, others and reality, it also, in certain contexts, influences the quality and degree of consciousness itself. If the brain gives shape to consciousness, then we would expect culture to have a corresponding impact on the functional anatomy and microstructure of the brain. The concept of 'collective representations', as developed by Durkheim, refers to the often crucial components of human life that have meaningful existence only because we agree that they do-- such as customs, money, religion, cosmology, language, games, laws, power structures and artistic genres. We present recent imaging research which illuminates the feedback relationship between these two types of representation-- the collective and the cortical-- and which demonstrates that collective representations can have well-defined cortical representations.

Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: January 1, 2008


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