This Is Your Brain on Irony
A team of French researchers have examined how the brain works when a listener grasps an ironic comment, discovering that essential regions of the brain help us to interpret language.
What's the Latest Development?
A team of French researchers have recently isolated which parts of the brain are active when a person grasps an ironic comment, which requires the listener to understand language in an illiteral way. To do this, researchers gave two groups of people two different short stories, one in which an opera singer's comment, "Tonight we gave a superb performance," had to be understood ironically given its context. When readers grasped that the remark was ironic, because in fact a bad performance had been given, what are called ToM-related regions of the brain were visibly active in subjects' MRI scans.
What's the Big Idea?
ToM stands for "theory of mind" and represents regions of the brain that are active when we imagine what another person is thinking. Our ability to project thoughts onto other humans, and decide if someone is threatening us or deserving of our sympathy, has been essential to our development in evolutionary terms. "It makes sense that parts of the brain involved in theorizing about other people's minds would be involved in grasping irony. After all, detecting irony means departing sharply from the literal meaning of a sentence, something it's hard to do without having a 'theory' about the intent behind the sentence."
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
- Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.
A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.
Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you.
A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.
- A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
- This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
- The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.