Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Now I Get It

From the BBC:

Scientists say they have located the parts of the brain that comprehend sarcasm – honestly.

By comparing healthy people and those with damage to different parts of the brain, they found the front of the brain was key to understanding sarcasm.

Damage to any of three different areas could render individuals unable to understand sarcastic comments.


Dr Simone Shamay-Tsoory and colleagues studied 25 people with prefrontal lobe damage, 16 with damage to the posterior lobe of the brain and 17 healthy volunteers.

They played the study participants tape-recorded stories, some sarcastic and some neutral.

An example of sarcasm was “Joe came to work, and instead of beginning to work, he sat down to rest. His boss noticed and said to Joe ‘don’t work too hard.'”

In fact, what Joe’s boss actually meant by his comment was “you are a slacker”.

In the neutral version Joe came to work and began work immediately. His boss made the same “don’t work too hard” comment, but this time, he actually meant that Joe was a hard worker.

The volunteers who had damage to their prefrontal lobes were unable to correctly interpret the sarcastic story, while all of the other participants could.

Well, I’ve always said that people who don’t get my sense of humor are brain-damaged. Who knew?