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When Do the Two Sides of the Brain Work Together?

Research has shown that injuries to the right hemisphere of the brain can affect a person’s sense of humor. To better understand the neuroscience of puns, a type of humor that requires the brain to sort through twists in wordplay, neuroscientists at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, tested the responses of both sides of the brain to puns. They found that getting the joke took cooperation between both hemispheres -- the left side is tasked with linguistic inputs, while the right hemisphere is used to analyze the punchline’s double meaning.

Oh, NOW I get it:

  • Researchers presented test subjects with a pun on one side of their visual field, and then the other. Participants were quicker on the uptake when they began processing the puns with the left side of the brain.
  • Study co-author Lori Buchanan said that she hopes the research will ultimately lead to rehabilitative training strategies that can help brain trauma victims struggling with diminished responses to humor.
  • The 2016 research was published in the journal Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition.

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