The human brain apparently responds differently whenever we talk to someone of a different socioeconomic background from our own, compared to when we speak to someone we perceive as from a similar background, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University College London (UCL) and Yale University have conducted a new imaging study. They monitored 39 pairs of participants talking to each other, with each correspondent wearing a headset that monitored their brain activity. Details of their research are published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Researchers discovered that the people who came from very different socioeconomic backgrounds, exhibited increased levels of brain activity in a specific part of the frontal lobe, known as the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This area is often linked with speech production, following rule-based language, cognition, and managing attention.

After the monitored conversation, participants were asked to accomplish a questionnaire. Again, participants who had to talk to people of different backgrounds reported higher levels of anxiety and effort in maintaining the conversation.

“For the first time, we have identified the neural mechanisms involved in social interactions between people of different backgrounds,” said professor Joy Hirsch, from the Yale School of Medicine and UCL Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering.

Original Article

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