Doug Colligan has a terrific article in Reader's Digest ("The secret to tickling his or her funny bone") on what's funny for men and women, but don't stop at just reading the article online.
Science journalist Kathleen Stein's The Genius Engine describes how researchers there used MRIs to photograph the brain as it processed a joke.
Neuroscientists Vinod Goel, PhD, and Raymond J. Dolan, MD, bombarded their captive audience with corny jokes (Q: Why don’t sharks bite lawyers? A: Professional courtesy), tricky semantics (Q: What do you give the man who has everything? A: Antibiotics) and slightly edgier stuff like this one from Chris Rock: “The only thing I know about Africa is that it’s far, far away. About a 35-hour flight. The boat ride’s so long, there are still slaves on their way here.”
The scientists watched the subjects’ brain cells spark into activity and pinpointed the neurological equivalent of the funny bone. It resides in a region called the prefrontal cortex (PFC), a neighborhood of convoluted gray matter tucked in the front of the brain where some of the higher functions of language and thought reside. Not only were neuronal responses positively ablaze in the PFC, but they also varied according to the funniness of the joke.
“When a participant laughed out loud a specific region lit up .. the brain’s comedy central.”
Be sure to click on the links as well:
Thanks to CJJR-CKBD, Vancouver PD Gord Eno for the tip!