The Science of Humor

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Comedians are funnier than the rest of us because they switch to a different part of their brains when they’re coming up with jokes, reports MedicalDaily.com. A team at the University of Southern California asked a group of professional and amateur comedians to come up with two captions – one funny, the other ordinary – for a New Yorker cartoon. They performed brain scans on the comedians as they performed this written task, and later had an outside panel rate each caption for humor. The researchers found that the experienced comedians had increased activity in their temporal lobe, a part of the brain involved with language, processing abstract information, and connecting feelings to events or objects. Those who weren’t as funny had more activity in their medial prefrontal cortex, the brain region responsible for complex planning and decision-making. “The more experience you have doing comedy,” explains study leader Ori Amir, “the more you rely on your spontaneous associations.”

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