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  1. Past research has recognized culture and gender variation in the experience of emotion, yet this has not been examined on a level of effective connectivity. To determine culture and gender differences in effec-tive connectivity during emotional experiences, we applied dynamic causal modeling (DCM) to electro-encephalography (EEG) measures of brain activity obtained from Chinese and American participants while they watched emotion-evoking images. Relative to US participants, Chinese participants favored a model bearing a more integrated dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) during fear v. neutral experiences. Meanwhile, relative to males, females favored a model bearing a less integrated dlPFC during fear v. neutral experiences. A culture-gender interaction for winning models was also observed; only US partici-pants showed an effect of gender, with US females favoring a model bearing a less integrated dlPFC compared to the other groups. These findings suggest that emotion and its neural correlates depend in part on the cultural background and gender of an individual. To our knowledge, this is also the first study to apply both DCM and EEG measures in examining culture-gender interaction and emotion.
  2. Situated models of emotion hypothesize that emotions are optimized for the context at hand, but most neuroimaging approaches ignore context. For the first time, we applied Granger causality (GC) analysis to determine how an emotion is affected by a person’s cultural background and situation. Electroencephalographic recordings were obtained from mainland Chinese (CHN) and US participants as they viewed and rated fearful and neutral images displaying either social or non-social contexts. Independent component analysis and GC analysis were applied to determine the epoch of peak effect for each condition and to identify sources and sinks among brain regions of interest. We found that source–sink couplings differed across culture, situation and culture × situation. Mainland CHN participants alone showed preference for an early-onset source–sink pairing with the supramarginal gyrus as a causal source, suggesting that, relative to US participants, CHN participants more strongly prioritized a scene’s social aspects in their response to fearful scenes. Our findings suggest that the neural representation of fear indeed varies according to both culture and situation and their interaction in ways that are consistent with norms instilled by cultural background.