Introduction

    • The Humor Processing
    • The humor styles
    • The Individual Differences of Humor
    • - The humor and gelotophobics/gelotophobes
    • - The humor and sex/gender
    • The Humorous Reward
    • The Humor and Creativity

Research Project PI

  • 2019.08 - 2020.07 PI. Neural correlates of appreciation and resolution with humorous and alternative uses tasks: fMRI studies. MOST 108-2410-H-007-044.
  • 2019.01 – 2019.12 PI. An fMRI study of reasoning jokes on humor processing. Yin Shu-Tien Education Foundation, Hsinchu Teachers College, National Tsing Hua University.

Research Project Co-PI

  • 2018.08-2021.07 CO-PI. The humor strength of aboriginal and new immigrants’ children- Its mechanisms and intervention effects. MOST 107-2511-H-003-003-MY3.
  • 2018.08-2020.07 CO-PI. Consumer responses to customer service Chatbot humor. MOST 107-2410-H-007-032-MY2.

Research Introduction

The Humor Processing (i)

The first study was designed to differentiate the respective brain areas corresponding to comprehension and elaboration with an additional condition, garden path sentences. The results suggest that the bilateral inferior frontal gyri and left superior frontal gyrus may be associated with humor comprehension, whereas the cortical region in left ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the subcortical regions in bilateral amygdalae and bilateral parahippocampal gyri may be responsible for the feeling of amusement during the elaboration process.

The Humor Processing (ii)

In this second study, an attempt is made to segregate the neural substrates of incongruity detection and incongruity resolution during the comprehension of verbal jokes. 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.

The humor styles

Following humor styles theory, this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study is the first to use “one-liner” humor to investigate the neural correlates involved in appreciating humor styles that differ in terms of target (self or other) and motivation (benign or detrimental). Interestingly, we observed greater activation in response to humor that facilitates relationships with others (self-defeating and affiliative humor) than to humor that enhances the self (self-enhancing and aggressive humor). Self-defeating humor may play an important role in Chinese culture in facilitating social relationships at one’s own expense.

The study attempted to identify the neural substrates of responses to hostile and non-hostile jokes in gelotophobics and non-gelotophobics. Gelotophobics showed greater activation than did nongelotophobics in the dorsal corticostriatal system, which comprises the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and dorsal striatum, suggesting a higher degree of voluntary top-down cognitive control of emotion. As expected, gelotophobics showed less activation in the ventral mesocorticolimbic system (MCL) in response to both hostile and non-hostile jokes, suggesting a relative deficit in the reward system. Conversely, non-gelotophobics displayed greater activation than gelotophobics did in the MCL system, particularly for non-hostile jokes, which suggests a more robust bottom-up emotional response. In response to non-hostile jokes, non-gelotophobics showed greater activation in the ventral MCL reward system, which comprises the midbrain, amygdalae, nucleus accumbens, ventral anterior cingulate cortex, and insula. Psychophysiological interaction analyses further showed that gelotophobics exhibited diminished MCL activation in response to hostile jokes. These group differences may have important implications for our understanding of the neural correlates of social motivation and humor appreciation.

The Humorous Reward

During both the reward anticipation and outcome phases, the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) were active in response to monetary cues and monetary gains, while the amygdala and midbrain showed a differential response to humorous rewards, apparently driven by the hedonic enjoyment and appreciation of humor consumption. Psychophysiological interaction analysis (PPI) further demonstrated the functional coupling of the amygdala-midbrain circuit in response to humorous gains during the reward outcome phase, while neural signaling was observed in the NAc-ACC circuit during both the reward anticipation and outcome phases in response to monetary rewards.

Research Project PI

  • 2019.08 - 2020.07 PI. Neural correlates of appreciation and resolution with humorous and alternative uses tasks: fMRI studies. MOST 108-2410-H-007-044.
  • 2019.01 – 2019.12 PI. An fMRI study of reasoning jokes on humor processing. Yin Shu-Tien Education Foundation, Hsinchu Teachers College, National Tsing Hua University.
  • 2017.08 – 2018.12 PI. The interdisciplinary research in neuroscience: An fMRI and EEG/ERP studies on reward and thinking processing. Yin Shu-Tien Education Foundation, Hsinchu Teachers College, National Tsing Hua University.
  • 2016.08 – 2018.07 PI. How motivation facilitates cognitive control: An fMRI study on humor and monetary rewards. MOST 105-2410-H-007-027-MY2
  • 2015.08 – 2016.07 PI. The neural correlates of humor appreciation and coping of Gelotophobes. MOST 104-2410-H-007-022
  • 2014.08 – 2015.07 PI. Investigating the neural mechanisms and networks underlying humor motivation among individuals and groups: fMRI and dMRI studies. MOST 103-2410-H-007-033
  • 2013.09 – 2014.08 PI. Identifying the Neural Substrates of the Ambiguity-Humor Interaction: An fMRI study. NSC 102-2410-H-007-072

Research Project Co-PI

  • 2018.08-2021.07 CO-PI. The humor strength of aboriginal and new immigrants’ children- Its mechanisms and intervention effects. MOST 107-2511-H-003-003-MY3.
  • 2018.08-2020.07 CO-PI. Consumer responses to customer service Chatbot humor. MOST 107-2410-H-007-032-MY2.
  • 2018.01-2022.12 CO-PI. Theoretical exploration and pedagogical practice of interdisciplinary learning by cognitive neuroscience technology. Institute for Research Excellence in Learning Sciences of National Taiwan Normal University. Higher Education Sprout Project by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan.
  • 2018.01-2022.12 CO-PI. Cognitive aspects of verbal humor production: an fMRI study. Chinese Language and Technology Center of National Taiwan Normal University. Higher Education Sprout Project by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan.
  • 2016.01-2016.12 CO-PI. The neural mechanisms underlying first language learner (L1) and second language learner (L2) in humor comprehension. Aim for the Top University Project of National Taiwan Normal University.
  • 2014.08-2017.07 CO-PI. The effects of aesthetic experiences on facilitating creativity through designed products: An application of fMRI. MOST 103-2511-S-004-002-MY3
  • 2014.01 – 2016.12 CO-PI. A Neural Mechanism Study of Nonsense Humor and Content/Motivation- Oriented Humor: Using fMRI and MEG Investigation. NSC 103-2420-H-003-005-MY3
  • 2014.01-2015.12 CO-PI. The neural mechanisms underlie humor processing in second language learner. Aim for the Top University Project of National Taiwan Normal University under Grant no. 03J1A0202.