Brain wave concomitants of cross-cultural differences in scores on simple cognitive tasks

C.J. Sonke, G.J.M. Boxtel, van, R.D. Griesel, Y.H. Poortinga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Interpretations of cross-cultural differences in performance on cognitive tasks tend to rely on broad concepts, such as general intelligence or cultural modes of thinking. In this study, the authors examine two proximate parameters, stimulus complexity and task exposure, using reaction time (RT) and event-related brain potentials (ERPs) recorded during various tasks. Five tasks differed in complexity but had similar stimulus content; one task had stimuli of different appearance. Test trials were administered across three days. Participants were trained on most tasks for two days. There were three samples, rural Venda youngsters in South Africa with little schooling, Venda university students, and Dutch university students. Cross-cultural differences in RT increased with task complexity and decreased with exposure. Substantial correspondence was found between patterns of RT and latency of the N2, an ERP component related to stimulus categorization. Our results fit an explanation in terms of task familiarity. Implications for culture-cognition relationships are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-54
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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