How You Remember Dance Steps Depends on Culture: I Think Step to the Left, You Think Step to the East

ScienceDaily (Jan. 4, 2010) — Even the way people remember dance moves depends on the culture they come from, according to a report in the December 14th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. Whereas a German or other Westerner might think in terms of “step to the right, step to the left,” a nomadic hunter-gatherer from Namibia might think something more like “step to the east, step to the west.”

Those differences aren’t just a matter of language; rather, they reflect differences in the way our minds encode and remember spatial relationships.

“The human mind varies more across cultures than we generally assume,” said Daniel Haun of the Max Planck Research Group for Comparative Cognitive Anthropology. “Even everyday tasks that we would never think of doing any other way, like remembering body movements, are done differently in other places.”

Researchers knew that cultures differ in the way that they represent the locations of objects in space. But, Haun and Christian Rapold explain, knowing where our own hands and feet are has a strongly “egocentric” organization in the brain. Therefore, you might expect all people to remember body movements in essentially the same manner.

For more see Science Daily…

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About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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