Gender Differences in How We Process Humor
Functional MRI images have shown gender differences in emotion processing, and behavioral studies have found gender differences in humor processing. In "Gender Differences in the Neural Correlates of Humor Processing: Implications for Different Processing Modes" (in the April issue of Neuropsychologia) an international team of investigators report on an experiment assessing the reactions of 14 females and 15 males to cartoons. Blood oxygenation levels were assessed alongside fMRIs. Women, it seems, process humor primarily in the part of the cortical processing system associated with primitive emotions and motivations. While men, too, engage those deep brain structures, more than women they also engage parts of the cortex associated with evaluative thinking.