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.”
“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.