Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Establishing the basis of humor

Date:
December 11, 2013
Source:
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung
Summary:
The act of laughing at a joke is the result of a two-stage process in the brain, first detecting an incongruity before then resolving it with an expression of mirth. Interestingly, the brain actions involved in understanding humour differ between young boys and girls.

The act of laughing at a joke is the result of a two-stage process in the brain, first detecting an incongruity before then resolving it with an expression of mirth. The brain actions involved in understanding humor differ between young boys and girls. These are the conclusions reached by a US-based scientist supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Related Articles


Since science has demonstrated that animals are also capable of planning into the future, the once deep cleft between the brain capacities of humans and animals is rapidly disappearing. Fortunately, we can still claim humor as our unique selling point. This makes it even more astonishing that researchers have considered this attribute but fleetingly (and have spent much more time on negative emotions such as fear), write the Swiss neuroscientist Pascal Vrticka and his US colleagues at Stanford University, in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

Strangely cheerful feelings

In their recently published article, the researchers demonstrate that, while laughter at a joke requires activity in many different areas of the brain, just two separate elements can be identified among the complex patterns of activity. In the first part, the brain detects a logical incongruity, which, in the second part, it proceeds to resolve. The ensuing feeling of cheerfulness arises from a brain activity that can be clearly differentiated from that of other positive emotions.

Moreover, in the study of 22 children aged between six and thirteen, the research team led by Vrticka showed that sex-specific differences in the processing of humor are formed early on in life. The researchers recorded the children's brain activity while they were enjoying film clips that were either funny -- slapstick home video -- or entertaining -- such as clips of children break-dancing. On average, the girls' brains responded more to the funny scenes, while the boys showed greater reaction to the entertaining clips.

Benefits of improved understanding

Vrticka speculates that these sex-based differences could play a role in helping women to select a suitable (and humorous) mate. Aside from this, humor also plays a key role in psychological health. This is demonstrated, among other things, in the fact that adults with psychological disorders such as autism or depression often have a modified humor processing activity and respond less markedly to humor than people who do not have these disorders. Vrticka believes that an improved understanding of the processes that take place in our brain when we enjoy the effects of an amusing joke could be of great benefit in the development of treatments.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Pascal Vrticka, Jessica M. Black, Allan L. Reiss. The neural basis of humour processing. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2013; 14 (12): 860 DOI: 10.1038/nrn3566

Cite This Page:

Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. "Establishing the basis of humor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211070209.htm>.
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. (2013, December 11). Establishing the basis of humor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211070209.htm
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. "Establishing the basis of humor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211070209.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins