Not Funny? This Brain Injury Affects Your Sense of Humor

Not Funny? This Brain Injury Affects Your Sense of Humor

Chris Rock, Seinfeld or Mr. Bean? Your choice could be based in your brain.

Slapstick comedy isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain view of the world to love a physical brand of humor. On the flip side, sitting in a bar and listening to someone on stage spout about the funny aspects of their rabbit-and how things get even worse when their mother-in-law comes around- isn’t for all ears. Stand-up comedy requires that you appreciate the punchlines. And, according to a new study, this isn’t something everyone can do.

Research done at the Rotman Research Institute and University of Toronto, Canada has found a link between damage to the right frontal lobe of the brain, and having a preference for slapstick.

“We always thought of humor as a defining human attribute, but an intangible part of our personality,” said Dr. Prathiba Shammi, a graduate of the University of Toronto’s department of psychology. “Now we know humor can be tested and scientifically scrutinized.”

Related: Why You Should Bust a Gut: Here Are 5 Amazing Benefits of Laughing

Forty-two consenting participants aged 18 to 70 responded to written and verbal jokes, as well as cartoons. Half of the group had brain injury caused by a stroke, tumor or surgical removal.

Researchers found those participants with right anterior frontal damage had the most difficulty appreciating written and verbal jokes. This group preferred silly slapstick humor and chose surprising and illogical endings, similar to those in acts like The Three Stooges.

“Through studies such as this one, we have evidence that the frontal region plays a critical role in higher cognitive functions such as humor, emotions and personality,” said Dr. Stuss. “It receives information from almost all other brain regions and integrates multiple types of information.”

Of course, a good laugh of any kind can go a long way. This is especially true when it can help increase your happiness, bonding, warmth, tolerance, unconditional love, forgiveness, compassion and generosity. Like it? Soak it up.

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