herald

Thursday 26 April 2018

It's no joke, our brains do light up

LAUGHTER begins in the brain as neurons 'light up' in response to jokes, a study has shown.

The funnier the joke is, the more activity is seen in the brain's 'reward centres' which create feelings of pleasure.

Learning how humour affects the brain could help determine whether coma patients can experience positive emotions.

A team of Medical Research Council (MRC) led scientists scanned the brains of volunteers to compare what happened when they heard ordinary spoken sentences and jokes, including puns.

The scans showed that the brain's reward centres 'lit up' to a much greater degree in response to jokes.

Dr Matt Davis, from the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, said: "We found a characteristic pattern of brain activity when the jokes used were puns. For example, jokes like 'Why don't cannibals eat clowns? Because they taste funny!' involved brain areas for language processing more than jokes that didn't involve wordplay."

hnews@herald.ie

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