Smart-arse Jewish scientists explain how sarcasm works

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.

How the brain comprehends sarcasm
How the brain comprehends sarcasm. Image: BBC

Perhaps these parts of the brain atrophy through disuse, or can be removed through selective breeding. Which might explain Americans.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. hellfried says:

    fascinating stuff. there is just so much stuff we don’t understand about the human brain and every little bit counts. the final frontier indeed.

  2. jordan says:

    Great post. Except for the bit about Americans. We’re not all half-wits, you know. Then again, you must know that, since clearly, you are the smartest man alive. Cheers, Jordan

  3. southernvoice says:

    This is wonderful news. I am so grateful to the Jewish scientists. It had been 15 minutes since I had heard any news about Jews or Israel and I was getting withdrawal. Thanks. I’m all American btw.

  4. Josh says:

    Say, you guys aren’t being sarcastic, are you?

  5. jordan says:

    Me? Sarcastic? Perish the thought 🙂

  6. andrew says:

    In the Jewish culture, it is both honorable and expected that the more clever one is the more one will engage in mockery and humiliation of other people. This is the Jewish definition of sarcasm. The Jew is a master of sarcasm and has taken it to levels unheard of in other cultures. Only the Jew can mock and demean others to the delight of his own heart. This is a unique quality found exclusively in the Jew and in no other races.

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