We have often been perceived as having differences in our sense of humors and now there is neurological evidence to back that up. The brain scanning study showed that although men and women tend to agree on which of the cartoons were funny that our brains process the humor differently. Women seem to have a lower expectation that the cartoon or joke will be funny.
The tests activated the same semantic and language processing regions of the brain in both sexes; and the response times for finding a cartoon funny was the same. However, they were stunned to find differences in the part of the brain known as the reward center. The nucleus accumbens which is part of the reward center (a very dopamine-rich area) is strongly activated by an unexpected reward – in this case, a funny joke. So, this means that women receive pleasure from something funny much easier. This would suggest that a comedy club is a great idea for a date fellas. Perhaps this is why women find humor such an attractive quality in a man?
The tests also revealed that when men find a cartoon unfunny it causes de-activation in their reward center, suggesting disappointment. Is this why humor works well for men but also leads many male humorists to feel disappointed? Is it why relatively few comedy writers are women as they may have lower expectations that others will find their work funny?
They suggests the differences may be the result of the genders having different ways of processing emotional information, and that better understanding of these differences could provide insight into many mental illnesses that affect one gender more than the other, such as depression.
Journal reference: National Academy of Sciences