New research in brain science illuminates why Jim Carrey never seems to be without a date. Work by the Stanford University School of Medicine suggests women are hard-wired to be attracted to funny men. Comedians of the world, rejoice.
The Stanford study deciphered brain scans of 22 boys and girls, aged from 6 to 13, as the kids viewed ‘funny’ videos, such as animals performing tricks or comedians taking prat-falls. The brain scans show an evolutionary difference between the brains of boys and girls when it comes to deciphering funny. The brain scans for the girls showed heightened activity in the midbrain and amygdale. These two regions of the brain are commonly associated with stimulus and rewards.
In addition to seeing girls’ brain scans light up in the presence of humor, the test subjects took brief surveys following the experiment. This anecdotal evidence strengthened conclusions drawn from the MRI data: girls are more receptive to humor. Given the same “funny” stimulus, girls and women receive more reward from a good laugh then their Y-chromosomal counterparts. Science would suggest this receptiveness is used by women to judge suitability of potential mates. After all, what’s better than a good laugh now and again? Conversely, the study suggests boys are more adept at producing humor in the hopes of impressing girls.
Because this result is seen in the brains of children as young as 6, science affirms a woman’s predilection to funny is genetically hard wired rather than taught. Also, the children viewed non-funny but still “positive” videos of things such as snowboarders, nature and bike rides. Boys and girls responded similarly on these baseline videos.
This study, showing evolutionary differences between brain activity in boys and girls, is groundbreaking in the field of brain science. Now that science can help comedians land a date, perhaps future studies can suggest better jokes or help battle hecklers.