A team of neuropsychologists from Haifa University have worked out how the brain processes sarcasm.
Dr Simone Shamay-Tsoory said language areas on the left hand side of the brain interpret the literal meaning of words and the frontal lobes and the right side of the brain understand the social and emotional context. An area called the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex then integrates the literal meaning with the social/emotional context, which will reveal any sarcasm.
People who suffer from autism or have had one of those parts of their brains damaged have trouble interpreting sarcasm – they tend to understand the statement literally – because they don’t pick up the emotional context or can’t reconcile the context with the literal meaning.
Perhaps these parts of the brain atrophy through disuse, or can be removed through selective breeding. Which might explain Americans.