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Sarcasm Detected By the Prefrontal-Lobe


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#1 QueenTiye

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Posted 24 May 2005 - 03:36 PM

http://news.yahoo.co...nssarcasmsensor

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Researchers Pinpoint Brain's Sarcasm Sensor

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter Mon May 23, 7:02 PM ET

-- Oh yeah, right!

No, it's true -- many of you don't go a day without dishing out several doses of sarcasm. But some brain-damaged people can't comprehend sarcasm, and Israeli researchers think it's because a specific brain region has gone dark.

The region, according to the researchers, handles the task of detecting hidden meaning, a crucial component of sarcasm. If that part of the brain is out of commission, the irony doesn't come through, the scientists report in the May issue of Neuropsychology.

Quote

The researchers think lesions in several parts of the brain can contribute to an inability to understand sarcasm. But, they wrote, this particular area is important because it draws on your innate recognition of the emotions of other people -- empathy -- and past experiences to comprehend a speaker's intentions.

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#2 SeamusSaidPoit

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Posted 24 May 2005 - 04:50 PM

[Comic Book Guy] Oh a sarcasm detector. That a real useful invention...
[Prof. Flavin] Ahh aaaah! It's overloading!


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#3 QueenTiye

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Posted 24 May 2005 - 04:53 PM

^^teeheehee! :)

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#4 Christopher

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Posted 24 May 2005 - 05:53 PM

I've always found sarcasm a strange thing.  Not that I have trouble understanding or recognizing it -- rather, I find it strange that it came into being at all.  Why would we have evolved or invented the custom of saying one thing while actually meaning the opposite?  I guess part of it is that humor often comes from incongruity or cognitive dissonance.  The laugh comes from the brain's satisfaction when it resolves the inconsistency and the pieces fall into place -- i.e. when one gets the joke.

But I guess the idea that there's a part of the brain that recognizes hidden meanings adds some insight too.  It has to do with empathy, social bonding.  When you "read between the lines" and divine for yourself what someone feels, rather than being told it outright, that can let you feel it more strongly, because you've internalized it, gotten there through your own effort.  When someone's being sarcastic, they're overtly encouraging you to do this, and making it easy to do so.  So it's kind of an invitation to empathize.  Although of course it can be used as a form of hostility, but in that case it's still the same, basically -- calling the other person's attention to what you feel (i.e. hostility toward them) by creating a purposeful contrast with your words.

Of course the ability to recognize sarcasm depends on perception of others' nonverbal cues, which is why sarcasm works poorly over the Internet.

Also, I imagine it would be hard for aliens to understand human sarcasm or vice-versa, because one species wouldn't have that innate understanding of the other's nonverbal cues.  An alien would be in the same fix as the brain-damaged humans described in the article.  I gather that a similar form of brain damage makes it impossible for someone to understand figurative language -- it's the same talent, the ability to read below the surface layer -- so that could make it hard for aliens to understand human idioms or slang (so the perennial gag of Spock or Mork or whoever taking human metaphors literally might have some truth to it).

Edited by Christopher, 24 May 2005 - 05:57 PM.

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#5 QueenTiye

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Posted 24 May 2005 - 10:45 PM

Ability to detect sarcasm is also probably the same as the ability to detect lies.  I'd think that's an evolutionary advantage...

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#6 D.Rabbit

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Posted 24 May 2005 - 11:05 PM

All right then,  Aliens and those who have suffered brain damage to their "sarcasm sensors" should be concidered handicapped.

If we are to be a fair and just society, for example, ramps for those in wheel chairs.. then we should all be expected to carry emoticon flash cards in our pockets.

Or how about miniature liquid crystal implants in our foreheads?
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#7 Orpheus

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Posted 24 May 2005 - 11:17 PM

On the other hand, in Real Life, I frequently detect brilliant sarcasm or ironic intent where none was intended.

So if you ever ask me why I'm laughing and I look startled and say "Oh, it's just that what you said is a pun in Japanese," I may just be throwing myself in emergency reverse, backpedaling and thinking "What? You mean you were serious?"

#8 D.Rabbit

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 12:38 AM

^^^
That's a prime example of too much education being dangerous to your health. ;)
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#9 SilverNeonASH

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 01:41 AM

Christopher, on May 24 2005, 10:53 PM, said:

I've always found sarcasm a strange thing.  Not that I have trouble understanding or recognizing it -- rather, I find it strange that it came into being at all.  Why would we have evolved or invented the custom of saying one thing while actually meaning the opposite?  I guess part of it is that humor often comes from incongruity or cognitive dissonance.  The laugh comes from the brain's satisfaction when it resolves the inconsistency and the pieces fall into place -- i.e. when one gets the joke.

But I guess the idea that there's a part of the brain that recognizes hidden meanings adds some insight too.  It has to do with empathy, social bonding.  When you "read between the lines" and divine for yourself what someone feels, rather than being told it outright, that can let you feel it more strongly, because you've internalized it, gotten there through your own effort.  When someone's being sarcastic, they're overtly encouraging you to do this, and making it easy to do so.  So it's kind of an invitation to empathize.  Although of course it can be used as a form of hostility, but in that case it's still the same, basically -- calling the other person's attention to what you feel (i.e. hostility toward them) by creating a purposeful contrast with your words.

Of course the ability to recognize sarcasm depends on perception of others' nonverbal cues, which is why sarcasm works poorly over the Internet.

Also, I imagine it would be hard for aliens to understand human sarcasm or vice-versa, because one species wouldn't have that innate understanding of the other's nonverbal cues.  An alien would be in the same fix as the brain-damaged humans described in the article.  I gather that a similar form of brain damage makes it impossible for someone to understand figurative language -- it's the same talent, the ability to read below the surface layer -- so that could make it hard for aliens to understand human idioms or slang (so the perennial gag of Spock or Mork or whoever taking human metaphors literally might have some truth to it).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Sarcasm came into being because this concept of free speech is still a relatively new thing. In the past, to speak the truth, often gave the speaker a terribly short life span. In many parts of the world, this is still true. As governments moved toward democracy, specifically England, free speech began creeping into the language, beginning with sarcasm, until it was elevated to an artform. Youth today, has little comprehension, nor ability toward sarcasm. They have never known oppression.

#10 Narc

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 02:00 AM

As a member of the "youth" group, I must say I disagree with that remark. I comprehend, and have some ability toward sarcasm. On the other hand, I feel little need for it, and that's a different matter altogether.
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#11 Orpheus

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 02:12 AM

D.Rabbit, on May 25 2005, 01:38 AM, said:

^^^
That's a prime example of too much education being dangerous to your health. ;)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

So you think I'd live longer if I said "You're kidding me! You mean you were serious?"

If you don't mind, I think I'll stick to my own health advice. At least my heirs can sue my estate foir malpractice. Or something like that.

#12 Raina

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 03:56 AM

Quote

Youth today, has little comprehension, nor ability toward sarcasm. They have never known oppression.
I'll admit that I'm not great at interpreting other people's sarcasm, but I use it all the time! ;)

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#13 Christopher

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 08:15 AM

QueenTiye, on May 24 2005, 11:45 PM, said:

Ability to detect sarcasm is also probably the same as the ability to detect lies.  I'd think that's an evolutionary advantage...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hmm, good point.  So it's not that we evolved to be sarcastic, but that sarcasm emerged as a spinoff from a trait we did need to evolve.  The ability arose for one reason, and we adapted it for another use, as a form of humor.

Still, it is a little odd when you think about it, or at least when I think about it.  I sometimes wonder if alien species would lack sarcasm and find it a weird custom in us.  But if it's an offshoot of the ability to detect deception and read hidden meaning -- vital in any social species -- then maybe any social species of alien would have the capacity for sarcasm.  (They might not be able to recognize it in us, due to our having different nonverbal cues, but they could recognize it in each other.  And one species could probably learn to recognize another's cues to some extent given enough time.)


SilverNeonASH, on May 25 2005, 02:41 AM, said:

Sarcasm came into being because this concept of free speech is still a relatively new thing. In the past, to speak the truth, often gave the speaker a terribly short life span. In many parts of the world, this is still true. As governments moved toward democracy, specifically England, free speech began creeping into the language, beginning with sarcasm, until it was elevated to an artform. Youth today, has little comprehension, nor ability toward sarcasm. They have never known oppression.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If it had been a cultural thing like that, it wouldn't be wired into our brains.  And it wouldn't be as universal as it is.

And I doubt you'd find any child who would agree that he or she has never been oppressed, never been able to speak his or her mind freely without reprisal.  Well, except for those raised without adult supervision. ;)
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#14 D.Rabbit

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 03:13 PM

Orpheus, on May 25 2005, 03:12 AM, said:

D.Rabbit, on May 25 2005, 01:38 AM, said:

^^^
That's a prime example of too much education being dangerous to your health. ;)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



If you don't mind, I think I'll stick to my own health advice. At least my heirs can sue my estate foir malpractice. Or something like that.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


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Youth today, has little comprehension, nor ability toward sarcasm. They have never known oppression.

My kid is vicious with the sarcasm, he gets it from being on the small side and having to cover is act when making the mistake of mouthing off at bullies.

There is plenty of oppression in the school yard, it's called "peer pressure."

So why do we do it?
If we succeed in fooling someone into thinking our sarcasm is sincere, then we win? That's a power play.
If we do it to be hurtfully, another power play, on the negative side.
If we do it because we can't think of anything witty to say, then technically, the other person wins.  :wacko:
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#15 Orpheus

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 01:42 AM

I hope you didn't take my remark the wrong way.

I just meant "Education (and Japanese) ain't got nuthin' to do with it, honey. I just like keeping my head on my neck (or whereever it may be)." Depending on my mood and the person I'm speaking to, I'd be equally likely to use "Incan". "Xhosa" or !Kung (none of which I speak, of course). Using Japanese in my example was a poor choice.

Of course, more than a few people might enjoy seeing the Queen of Hearts playing croquet with my head and a flamingo.

#16 D.Rabbit

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 04:00 AM

Why did ya have to tempt me at ^ this hour?

QueenofHearts.jpg
Hurry up Alice he's getting sarcastic in Japanese!

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I just like keeping my head on my neck (or whereever it may be)
At least I went for the lesser of two evils.  :angel:

Quote

I hope you didn't take my remark the wrong way.
Not at all. Well maybe, with us Orph, it's hard to tell?

My comment about your health was a reaction to your,
"I may just be throwing myself in emergency reverse, backpedaling*snip*"

I thought you might be trying to avoid a speeding fist.  :eek4:
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