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Humour is Fundamental to our Success as a Species

First Universal Theory of Humour Answers how and why we Find Things Funny

CARLISLE, England, June 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Published today The Pattern Recognition Theory of Humour, by Alastair Clarke, answers the eternal question of what is humour. Clarke explains how and why we find things funny and identifies the reason humour is common to all human societies, its fundamental role in the evolution of humans and its continuing importance in the cognitive development of infants.

Clarke explains: "For some time now it's been assumed that a global theory of humour is impossible. This theory changes thousands of years of incorrect analyses and mini-theories that have applied to only a small proportion of instances of humour. It offers a vital answer as to why humour exists in every human society."

"Humour cannot be explained in terms of content or subject matter. A group of individuals can respond completely differently to the same content, and so to understand humour we have to examine the structures underlying it and analyse the process by which each individual responds to them. Pattern Recognition Theory is an evolutionary and cognitive explanation of how and why an individual finds something funny. Effectively it explains that humour occurs when the brain recognizes a pattern that surprises it, and that this recognition is rewarded with the experience of the humorous response," says Clarke.

Humour is not about comedy it is a fundamental cognitive function. Clarke explains: "An ability to recognize patterns instantly and unconsciously has proved a fundamental weapon in the cognitive arsenal of human beings." Recognising patterns enables us to quickly understand our environment and function effectively within it: language, which is unique to humans, is based on patterns.

Clarke concludes: "It sheds light on infantile cognitive development, will lead to a revision of tests on 'humour' to diagnose psychological or neurological conditions and will have implications on the development of language. It will lead to a clarification of whether other animals have a sense of humour, and has an important role to play in the production of artificial intelligence beings that will feel less robotic thanks to a sense of humour."

Notes to editors

Published on 16 June by Pyrrhic House. The full-length book, Humour, will be published October 2008.

Alastair Clarke is available for interview.

For more information: Nicola Hern T: +44(0)7980-098652 W:

SOURCE Pyrrhic House
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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