The differential processing of verbal jokes by neural substrates in indigenous and Han Chinese populations: An fMRI study

Chia Yueh Chang, Yu Chen Chan, Hsueh Chih Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Limited research has been conducted on humor among the Taiwanese indigenous (IND) population. This study attempted to identify the differential neural correlates of humor comprehension and appreciation between IND and Han Chinese (HAN) populations. Each participant was presented with jokes and non-jokes. IND participants when encountered with jokes displayed a greater activation of the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward system, including the amygdala, midbrain, and nucleus accumbens than HAN participants. This suggests a more pleasurable response and appreciation of humor. The IND group also displayed greater activation in the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) than HAN, suggesting that the IND group may experience a greater sense of novelty and be more involved in social understanding, thus exhibiting greater humor appreciation. In terms of humor comprehension, both IND and HAN showed greater activation in the superior temporal gyrus (STG) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC). IND exhibited greater activation in the anterior STG (aSTG), while HAN showed greater activation in the posterior STG (pSTG). This suggests that the IND tends to integrate emotional messages, whereas the HAN focuses on comprehending semantic cognitive information. Interestingly, HAN did not show any greater activation than IND in terms of appreciation of humor. These group disparities have substantial implications for advancing our knowledge of the neural mechanisms underlying humor comprehension and appreciation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114702
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Feb 4


  • Amygdala
  • Humor
  • Midbrain
  • Right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ)
  • Superior temporal gyrus (STG)
  • Taiwanese indigenous peoples (IND)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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