Towards a neural circuit model of verbal humor processing: An fMRI study of the neural substrates of incongruity detection and resolution

Yu Chen Chan, Tai Li Chou, Hsueh Chih Chen, Yu Chu Yeh, Joseph P. Lavallee, Keng Chen Liang, Kuo En Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The present study builds on our previous study within the framework of Wyer and Collin's comprehension-elaboration theory of humor processing. In this study, an attempt is made to segregate the neural substrates of incongruity detection and incongruity resolution during the comprehension of verbal jokes. Although a number of fMRI studies have investigated the incongruity-resolution process, the differential neurological substrates of comprehension are still not fully understood. The present study utilized an event-related fMRI design incorporating three conditions (unfunny, nonsensical and funny) to examine distinct brain regions associated with the detection and resolution of incongruities. Stimuli in the unfunny condition contained no incongruities; stimuli in the nonsensical condition contained irresolvable incongruities; and stimuli in the funny condition contained resolvable incongruities. The results showed that the detection of incongruities was associated with greater activation in the right middle temporal gyrus and right medial frontal gyrus, and the resolution of incongruities with greater activation in the left superior frontal gyrus and left inferior parietal lobule. Further analysis based on participants' rating scores provided converging results. Our findings suggest a three-stage neural circuit model of verbal humor processing: incongruity detection and incongruity resolution during humor comprehension and inducement of the feeling of amusement during humor elaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-176
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroImage
Volume66
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Feb 1

Keywords

  • FMRI
  • Humor comprehension
  • Incongruity-resolution theory
  • Neural circuit model of humor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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