In interpersonal communication, body posture and nonverbal behavior serve as important channels for transmitting social signals and these often vary among cultures. Specific body postures and actions have not only functional, but also affective elements. For example, in Japan, handing an object to another with both hands is considered polite behavior whereas using only one hand is not. In this study, we have examined whether handing with both hands and handing with one hand would produce indications of differential brain activities in the receiver, and whether this activity would differ among people with different cultural backgrounds. Changes in oxy-Hb concentration were measured by 48-channel near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) from 51 female participants (25 Japanese and 26 non-Japanese). The experimenter handed a bottle to participants using both or one hand. Results showed different amounts of change in oxy-Hb concentrations in the inferior frontal regions, depending on whether one hand or both hands were used. Moreover, the pattern of brain reactions in the inferior frontal regions differed between our Japanese and non-Japanese participants. A discriminant analysis of differences in oxy-Hb values suggested that the degree of oxy-Hb reaction in the right side of inferior frontal regions could predict to which group the participants belonged. These results suggest that different cultural and habitual backgrounds may lead to different NIRS activity while interpreting another's actions, and oxy-Hb IFG concentration may reflect differential interpretations of another's actions.
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