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Mechanism and function of humor identified by new evolutionary theory
Date:6/27/2008

A new publication answers centuries' old questions regarding the mechanism and function of humour, identifying the reason humour is common to all human societies, its fundamental role in the evolution of homo sapiens and its continuing importance in the cognitive development of infants.

Alastair Clarke explains: "The theory is an evolutionary and cognitive explanation of how and why any individual finds anything funny. Effectively it explains that humour occurs when the brain recognizes a pattern that surprises it, and that recognition of this sort is rewarded with the experience of the humorous response, an element of which is broadcast as laughter.

"By removing stipulations of content we have been forced to study the structures underlying any instance of humour, and it has become clear that it is not the content of the stimulus but the patterns underlying it that provide the potential for sources of humour. For patterns to exist it is necessary to have some form of content, but once that content exists, it is the level of the pattern at which humour operates and for which it delivers its rewards."

Previous theories have only ever applied to a small proportion of all instances of humour, many of them stipulating necessary content or social conditions either in the humour itself or around the individual experiencing it. But this doesn't explain why an individual can laugh at something when no one else around them does, nor why two people can laugh at the same stimulus for different reasons.

The theory further identifies the importance of pattern recognition in human evolution as Clarke explains: "An ability to recognize patterns instantly and unconsciously has proved a fundamental weapon in the cognitive arsenal of human beings. The humorous reward has encouraged the development of such faculties, leading to the unique perceptual and intellectual abilities of our species."

Clarke's new theory of humour could also pro
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Contact: Nicola Hern
nicola@pyrrhichouse.co.uk
44-079-800-98652
Pyrrhic House
Source:Eurekalert

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