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Scientists: Sarcasm Requires More Brain Activity Than Sincerity


(I loooove Sarcasm! t-shirt on sale at the NeatoShop)

In 2005, Drs. Simone Shamay-Tsoory and Judith Aharon-Peretz published an article in the journal Neuropsychology that examined how the brain processes sarcasm. They studied how people with selected brain damage understood sarcasm and concluded that the prefrontal cortex provides essential information processing of sarcasm:

The authors explored the neurobiology of sarcasm and the cognitive processes underlying it by examining the performance of participants with focal lesions on tasks that required understanding of sarcasm and social cognition. Participants with prefrontal damage (n  25) showed impaired performance on the sarcasm task, whereas participants with posterior damage (n  16) and healthy controls (n  17) performed the same task without difficulty. Within the prefrontal group, right ventromedial lesions were associated with the most profound deficit in comprehending sarcasm. In addition, although the prefrontal damage was associated with deficits in theory of mind and right hemisphere damage was associated with deficits in identifying emotions, these 2 abilities were related to the ability to understand sarcasm. This suggests that the right frontal lobe mediates understanding of sarcasm by integrating affective processing with perspective taking.

A 2005 article in The Guardian summarizes the implications of these findings:

First the language centre in the brain's left hemisphere interprets the literal meaning of words. Next, the frontal lobes and right hemisphere process the speaker's intention and check for contradictions between the literal meaning and the social and emotional context. Finally, the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex - our sarcasm meter - makes a decision based on our social and emotional knowledge of the situation.

Therefore you should be sarcastic whenever possible in order to demonstrate to people your superior intellectual abilities.

-via Ace of Spades HQ


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