Women take more time to understand jokes than men

Sunday, 31 January 2010, 05:03 Hrs   |    3 Comments
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Women take more time to understand jokes than men
Bangalore: It is found that women use more parts of the brain than men to process jokes and have less expectation that they will find them funny. According to scientists at Stanford University in California Women use more brain power and take more time than men but derive more pleasure from a good punch line, according to scientists. To know how men and women respond to humor, scientists placed 10 women and 10 men in an fMRI scanner and shown 70 black-and-white cartoons on a screen. They pressed buttons to indicate how amusing they found each joke. The scanner measured the subjects' brain activity as they viewed both funny and unfunny cartoons, as well as timing how long it took them to respond to a joke, reports Chris Gourlay and Chris Hastings of The Sunday Times. According to the experiments, women displayed more intense activity than men in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which controls language interpretation and in-depth analytical processes. They took slightly longer to react to jokes that were funny, but enjoyed the punch lines more. Researchers, however, said the time difference was marginal. Professor Allan Reiss, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford, who led the study, said, "The findings indicated that women preferred more sophisticated humor and used more complex brain functions to process it. Our findings fit the stereotype of how men and women react to humor. We found greater activity in the prefrontal cortex in women, indicating women are processing stimuli that involve language areas of the brain. The interpretation of that finding is that women tend to respond more to word play and narrative than slapstick. The scans also indicate that women have a lower expectation that they will find jokes funny - but when they do, they experience a greater degree of reward. Men have the opposite response. They show more activation of nucleus acumens [the part of the brain involved in reward and pleasure], indicating they expect to get the joke, but when they don't they get more depressed." It is found that there are differences in the way men and women use humor in social situations. According to Rod Martin, a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, men are far more likely to use 'hostile' humor to criticize each other and establish dominance, as seen in Al Murray's pub landlord character, while women use humour to maintain relationships and put others at ease.