What Makes Jokes Funny?

What makes Jokes FunnyResearch shows that there is a specific area of our brains, which enables us to react to humour. Using a brain scanning method called Magnetic Resonance Imaging, scientists found the precise area was behind the frontal lobes of the brain, in the section of the Prefrontal cortex, which plays a large part in flexible thinking.

At Laugh Lab, an experiment was held to understand this phenomena, where a group of people undertook these MRI scans, as well as answering a series of questions. As the subjects listened to jokes, their brain activity was scanned. They were then read “serious” sentences and both results were compared. The findings were astonishing. When the “punchlines” of the jokes were heard, the scan showed much more activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, compared to when they were read the “serious” sentences. Obviously, it illustrated that when this part of the brain was activated, it enabled the participants to “get” the punch line within an element of surprise – and ultimately realize why the joke was funny.

It was clear that without the function of this section of the brain, understanding a joke would be very difficult, if not impossible. In fact, research shows that people who have suffered from brain damage to this frontal area of the brain have commonly lost their sense of humour.

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