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Elsewhere – Gender can determine your sense of humor

The Stanford Daily (Stanford)

(U-WIRE)-Two atoms walk into a bar (why is it always a bar?). One turns to the other and says, “I think I lost an electron!” The other replies, “Are you sure?” “Yes, I’m positive.”

It’s possibly the worst joke ever, but if you’re a man, you took longer to decide that it was unfunny than a woman would. This is one of the findings of a study by Stanford University.

Published in the National Academy of Sciences and led by Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Prof. Alan Reiss, the study was the first to examine how men and women respond to humor differently by monitoring brain responses. Researchers found that women displayed more activity in the parts of the brain involved with language processing and feelings of reward when shown a funny cartoon.

Women showed more activity than men in their prefrontal cortex, which controls language interpretation. Reiss explained that this difference demonstrates that “women may take a more discriminating approach to the features of a cartoon.” While women and men found the same cartoons funny, he noted that women were faster at deciding whether a cartoon was funny. He surmised that women’s greater analytical brain activity contributed to this faster decision-making.

November 18, 2005

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