Wed, Nov 09, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Study probes funnybone gap between men, women

AP , WASHINGTON

The difference between the sexes has long been a rich source of humor. Now it turns out, humor is one of the differences.

Women seem more likely than men to enjoy a good joke, mainly because they don't always expect it to be funny.

"The long trip to Mars or Venus is hardly necessary to see that men and women often perceive the world differently," a research team led by Allan Reiss reports in yesterday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But they were surprised when their studies of how the male and female brains react to humor showed that women were more analytical in their response, and felt more pleasure when they decided something really was funny.

"Women appeared to have less expectation of a reward, which in this case was the punch line of the cartoon," Reiss said. "So when they got to the joke's punch line, they were more pleased about it."

Women were subjecting humor to more analysis with the aim of determining if it was indeed funny, Reiss said in a telephone interview.

Men are using the same network in the brain, but are less discriminating, he said.

"It doesn't take a lot of analytical machinery to think someone getting poked in the eye is funny," he commented when asked about humor like the Three Stooges.

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