Humor and the Brain

I've written a bit about humor before on this blog. Thanks to George for this interesting link to an article on the neuroscience of humor: The comedy circuit: When your brain gets the joke by Daniel Elkan.

An intriguing part of the article (for me at least) is how neuroscience is beginning to examine how different forms of humor affect us. For example:

Most types of humour, including jokes and cartoons, rely on some kind of incongruity between two elements that needs a second's thought before it can be understood. The extent to which this mismatch can be resolved differs between jokes, however.

Some have a clean punchline that ties up all the loose ends, while in "nonsense" humour the incongruity can only be partially resolved, leaving a gap in the person's understanding.
I've always been a fan of random humor, the inexplicable juxtaposition.

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2 thoughts on “Humor and the Brain”

  1. so if i am o.c.p.d.i must be really smart and funny...
    thats what your wife said abiut you richard, not what my wife said about me richard...


  2. Richard,

    In my experience as a VA chaplain, I find humor, smiles, and laughter--even mordant and sarcastic humor--to be healing and hopeful. Its very unexpected discontinuity uniquely allows transcendent grace a point of entry into our lives.

    A recent bit of humor I heard:

    An elderly couple on limited income were shopping at a Target superstore. Wheeling their cart down an aisle the husband spotted a case of Budweiser on sale for $10. He struggled to put it in the cart but his wife responded: "These are hard times. We can't afford that beer." The husband frowned and put the beer back. Three aisles later the woman placed a $25 item from a cosmetics display into the cart. The husband asked: "What's that?" The wife replied: "It's face cream. It makes me look beautiful to you." The brave husband stated: "Well, for only $10 so does a case of beer."


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