Group differences in mental health: a role for culture in neuropsychiatry

Daina Crafa*, Saskia K. Nagel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


There is a need to diversify mental health research that uses brain imaging. Currently, this research almost exclusively includes participants from the 'Western' world, a majority of whom are Caucasian (Henrich et al, 2010a; 2010b). In light of studies from cultural neuroscience, which use brain imaging to demonstrate that people from different countries exhibit different neural activity, the lack of diversity in contemporary mental health research may pose a systematic bias of the data and interpretation. Considering that disorders are highly diverse between patients and across cultural groups, brain-based characteristics of disorders may vary across populations, making aberrant neural signatures difficult to identify if they exist at all. Further research could expand clinical understanding of diverse disorder phenotypes for globally shared disorders (e.g., schizophrenia) as well as generating new knowledge about culture-bound syndromes. This paper begins by demonstrating the underrepresentation of diverse populations in neuropsychiatry and then systematically discusses problems that increasing representation may solve, as well as research opportunities and implications for mental health practice, particularly for fields like transcultural psychiatry and global mental health
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-150
JournalWorld cultural psychiatry research review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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