Study Spots Where Humor Tickles Kids' Brains
[Source: ABC News]
Kids may not giggle over the awkwardness on “The Office,” and adults usually aren’t all that tickled by Elmo. But new research shows that the same brain regions are active when both children and grown ups find something funny.
Researchers at Stanford University have shown that the brain’s network for appreciating humor develops in childhood. They studied 15 children ages 6 to 12, showing them clips from “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” like people stumbling while skiing or running, animals doing tricks or a kid being catapulted off of an inflatable couch. (To be sure the videos would be funny to kids and not just scientists, the researchers first had children of the same ages rate videos as funny or not.)
While the kids were watching the videos, researchers were monitoring their brain activity using technology called functional magnetic resonance imaging.
The results, published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, showed that funny videos turned on kids’ brains in two key areas – the temporo-occipito-parietal junction, or TOPJ, an area located just above the ear, and the midbrain, an area deep inside the brain near the bottom of the skull. The fact that these areas were more active during funny videos and not just positive ones shows that these areas are distinctly part of the brain’s humor network.
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