We become cultured through training in various activities, such as customs, arts, interacting with people, the use of technologies, and the discovering of ideas, the learning of beliefs, shared philosophies, and religion. Our brains are modified by our cultural activities.
Since all our brain modules are plastic to some degree, we have the ability to create signature cultural activities and to respond to changing conditions. This cognitive fluidity is the human equivalent to Artificial Intelligence. The human cortex has 30bn neurons and is capable of making 1 million billion synaptic connections, at least 10 followed by a million zeros. Knowing that the universe consists of 10 followed by 79 zeros particles, it becomes clear why mindfulness beats AI. We call the shots to fully capitalize on our inherent capabilities.
Civilization is a combination of higher and lower brain functions and the plastic brain can always allow these functions that it has brought together earlier to separate. That said, a regression to barbarism, a civilization breakdown in civil wars and brutal instincts, such as theft, rape, murder and destruction, is possible anytime. Civilization will always be a fragile affair that has to be taught in each generation anew. Many of today’s societal challenges can be ascribed to a necessary, but strenuous neuronal rewiring process in human beings‘ brains.
Culture Shock Is A Brain Shock
For the adult brain, immigration is a brutal workout, requiring a massive rewiring of cortical real estate. When a new culture plastically competes with legacy neural networks of home country origin, successful assimilation requires at least a generation. Most immigrants experience disorientation and traumas. In the same way, people living in the country that welcomes immigrants, have to cope with different cultures, often associated with significantly lower living standards followed by respective ways of life that immigrants have been accustomed to.
Within one generation, it proves to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to completely rewire in order to fully understand another culture. Faced with a massive migration challenge, it‘s our duty to enrich our educational curriculae at (pre-)schools and universities with as much information about different cultures as we can. Since cultural rewiring takes time, we must educate our children and enable them to develop culture-rich neural networks at a time they are most susceptible to learning. This could become a relevant factor for the coexistence of future societies.