Specialization of neural mechanisms underlying the three-stage model in humor processing: An ERP study

Yen Ju Feng, Yu Chen Chan, Hsueh Chih Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Most studies of the neural correlates of humor processing have used functional magnetic resonance imaging, but few studies have examined the temporal dynamics of humor processing. The current study examined the temporal dynamics of cortical activation that underlies incongruity detection, resolution and elaboration of humor. Event-related potentials were measured while 31 participants read jokes, non-jokes and nonsensical sentences. The results showed that nonsensical sentences elicited the most negative ERP deflection (N400) between 350 and 500ms, which possibly reflects incongruity detection in humor. Jokes and non-jokes elicited a more positive deflection (P600) than nonsensical sentences between 500 and 700ms, which possibly reflects a reanalysis process during incongruity resolution.Moreover, jokes elicited the most positive slow-wave activity between 800 and 1500ms, which may be related to emotional processing during elaboration. These results support that N400, P600 and Late Positive Potential (LPP) index the cognitive functions involved in humor processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurolinguistics
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Nov 1


  • Event-related potentials (ERPs)
  • Humor
  • Late-positive potential (LPP)
  • N400
  • P600

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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