Funny Is How Our Brain Remember Things

by Vrinda Jain
Funny Is How Our Brain Remember Things

January 26, 2021

Do you often find yourself coming up with fun memories that happened years ago more than the bad ones. But have you ever wondered as to why we mostly tend to remember the funny things from our past?

In a recent study, researchers found that the audiences are more likely to remember humorous events from video-graphic content than non-humorous ones to surprising accuracies.  Experts at the Annenberg School of Communication conducted the study and reached this stunning conclusion. The research titled ‘Political Humour, Sharing, and Remembering: Insights from Neuroimaging’ is published in the Journal of Communication.

Research's Peg

The researchers recruited young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 to watch a range of news clips structured to differ just, so some ended up with jokes, and others did not.

In addition to gathering data on participants’ brain activity using MRI technology, researchers performed a memory test to assess how much details the participants had retained. Researchers interviewed the respondents and asked them how willing they would be to exchange the sample news clips with others.

Interestingly, participants distinctly recalled the information about politics and government policies when delivered in a humorous rather than non-humorous way. They were more willing to share such information online.

The results also indicated that amusing news clips contributed to the activation of more significant brain regions correlated to thoughts about what other people think and feel, demonstrating the social essence of satiric and humorous content.

Main effects of lyrics and emotions. ITG stands for inferior temporal gyrus, ACC stands for anterior cingulate cortex, Cau for caudate, Cun for cuneus, CG for cingulate gyrus, Dec for cerebellar declive, ITG stands for inferior temporal gyrus, Put for putamen, STG for superior temporal gyrus, TTG for transverse temporal gyrus, and Thal for thalamus. Activations were considered significant at p < 0.001, Z > 3.5, and k > 10.

Why Does Our Brain Remember Certain Things?

Embedding memory into the brain is a biological event based on sensory perception – at least that’s what the encoding process begins with. You probably remember the first person you fell in love with- this is because your visual and emotional systems have documented certain aspects of that person. These senses are not memories on their own, but they are encoded as memory because of the case’s meaning.

Our findings show that humour stimulates the activities of those regions of the brain that are associated with social engagement, improving memory for political facts, and increasing the interest in sharing political information with other people.

- Emily Falk, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Tweet

This all happens in the hippocampus along with the frontal cortex in our brain. Together, these two sections are responsible for evaluating the experiences you go through and make decisions about whether they will need to be remembered in the future. This is a method that takes a short-term memory and encodes it as long-term memory.

Fragmentation of Events For Retention by the Brain

We believe that the pieces of an event are processed in memory in various parts of the brain. However, neuroscientists are still studying how all these experiences are connected in the memory retrieval process. At its essence, memories are processed as chemical and electrical signals in the brain.

Nerve cells bind together in specific patterns, called synapses, and the act of recalling something is only the brain that activates these synapses. When you develop your memory, you’re asking your mind’s electrician to put some new wiring in there. When you remember something, it’s like turning the light switch and watching the wiring work as planned – the light comes on.

The Science of Human Attention Span

Human attention span is shorter than a goldfish’s attention span. The average human attention span has become shorter than the goldfish. A recent study found that the average human attention span has declined from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today. On the other hand, scientists claim that the goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds.

We’re always surrounded with text, tweets, push notifications, advertisements, Facebook updates, emails, and more, and our brains get hooked on all that stimulation. We’re searching for more and more new stuff, and it can be hard to pay attention to one thing for a very long time. Conversely, it also makes it impossible to hold anyone’s attention for a very long time.

A Duke team has mapped the distinct patterns of brain activity that correspond to seven different emotional states. The brain anatomy presented here is an average of data from 32 study subjects. (Credit: Philip Kragel, Kevin LaBar, Duke University)

Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 people and examined the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000, the average attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to nine seconds.

Positive Ending

On a positive note, the report also mentions that our multitask capacity has significantly improved in the mobile era. Microsoft has proposed that the changes result from the brain’s ability to adapt and evolve. A weaker attention span can be a side effect of the evolution of the mobile Internet.

The survey also confirmed generational disparities for mobile use; for instance, 77% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 answered “yes” when asked, “When nothing takes my attention, the first thing I do is reach my phone,” compared to just 10% of people over the age of 65.

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