The Neural Substrates of Humor Processing: An Integrative Review
Humor is an important cognitive and affective phenomenon. Remarkable advances in fMRI techniques have made it possible to study the neural mechanisms underlying humor processing. The present study proposes a “Tri-component Model of Humor Processing”, in which humor processing involves cognition (comprehension), affect (appreciation) and the physical response of laughter (behavior). Previous research has found that regions in the frontal and temporal lobes become active during the humor comprehension process, which involves the detection and resolution of incongruity. The mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic system, associated with the experience of amusement, is responsive during the humor appreciation process. Finally, the physical laughter response has been associated with activity in the supplementary motor area (SMA). Earlier research, however, mainly “funny” and “unfunny” conditions, making it impossible to distinguish between cognitive and affective aspects of humor processing. To address this issue, our two studies made use of a novel design that incorporated a “garden path sentence” condition and a “nonsensical” condition. Results from these studies led to the development of a three-stage model of the neural circuit of humor processing. In this three-stage model, the detection of semantic incongruities involves the right middle temporal gyrus (MTG) and right medial frontal gyrus (MFG); the resolution of incongruities involves the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), left superior frontal gyrus (SFG), and left inferior parietal lobule (IPL); and the emotional experience of mirth or amusement is associated with the left ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), the bilateral amygdalae and the bilateral parahippocampal gyri. We argue that this model successfully integrates behavioural, cognitive and neurobiological approaches to humor and suggest that it has the potential to serve as a foundation for further research into the neural mechanisms underlying the cognitive and affective processing of humor. We further recommend this model for use in developing converging lines of cognitive neuroscience evidence in research into phenomena as diverse as language, positive emotions, and working memory.
|關鍵詞||工作記憶、功能性磁振造影、幽默三元論、情緒、語言、working memory、fMRI、tri-component model of humor processing、emotion、language|