Verification of the Four-Stage Model of Humor Processing: Evidence from an fMRI Study by Three-Element Verbal Jokes

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The four-stage model comprises the expectation, incongruity, resolution, and elaboration stages of humor processing. In previous studies, most researchers used two-element jokes (setup and punch line) as stimuli, based on experimental methods, to explore the humor process. By contrast, the present study used a humor corpus with the novelty of three-element verbal jokes to perform direct separation from the material and clarify the humor processes. In this study, we used three-element verbal jokes and nonjokes, and we conducted a repeated-measures analysis of variance with a 3 × 2 two-way within-subject design. In humor processing, the posterior insula and middle frontal gyrus were mainly activated in the expectation; the middle temporal gyrus and the medial frontal gyrus in the incongruity; the inferior frontal gyri, superior frontal gyrus, and inferior parietal lobule in the resolution; and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, anterior insula, nucleus accumbens, and midbrain in the elaboration. The contributions of this study lie in its use of a humor corpus with the novelty of self-compiled three-element jokes, which not only successfully verified the models established in previous studies but added the expectation to the model; thus, this study separated the expectation and incongruity processes, making humor processing more complete.

Original languageEnglish
Article number417
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Mar


  • amygdala
  • humor
  • inferior parietal lobule
  • insula
  • middle frontal gyrus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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