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Humor @ MindSay


I think I see the Light.
Shining though the tiny holes of the netting, I see the Light...In the distance the ships come into and out of the harbour..I still have a great view...I didn't fall....I didn't faint...just a tad of dizziness..(smiles)...I'm still here to tell my tale...there is no woe...except a I shake my fist at those pesky birds who long to fly into my compound but just won't be able a few short minutes...

My secret weapon is netting....
As you know by now...I have had squatters and nesters of the bird variety on my balcony for months..
Nothing has encouraged them to leave...Nothing has swayed them to find refuge in another building...They come and go as they please and leave their litter behind...but I finally have solved my problem...

I HAVE solved the problem..Yes..thinking positively is need to fret any longer or to invest in firearms..

I simply went to Ikea and bought some mosquito curtains for $5.98 each for two sets of them...Rona lumber for hooks and 1 x2 inch cedar and some dowelling...A handy dandy guy for $50. per hour and voila...I just need to risk life and limb to hang the curtains myself....(afraid of heights and I live at the top of the building)
The curtains are see through mosquito netting...and I am almost finished hanging them along the top edges of every square inch of my balcony....

Ha Ha...I say...
You can't come in...
Au Revoir 
sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.


Amusing Thoughts
I just  viewed my own blog as everyone else sees it for the first time in forever. Can i tell you how funny i find it, that i was Shades of Grey before there was "50 Shades of Grey" ? LOL
I have had this layout for at least 5 years, if not longer. Just a funny little tidbit


Brain Stuff

The comedy circuit: When your brain gets the joke

01 February 2010

 Daniel Elkan

TWO polar bears are perched on a block of floating ice. One says to the other: "Do you know, I keep thinking it's Thursday..."

To some, this kind of surreal humour is side-splitting. Others are baffled by it and can't even raise a smile. Yet despite the importance of humour to human psychology, it is only the advances in brain imaging during the past decade that have enabled neuroscientists to pin down how the brain reacts when a joke tickles us. Armed with this knowledge, they are now solving the puzzle of why some jokes are funny to some people but leave others cold.

So what is a joke, exactly? Most theories agree that one condition is essential: there must be some kind of incongruity between two elements within the joke, which can be resolved in a playful or unexpected way.

Take the following exchange from the classic British sitcom Only Fools and Horses, when an anxious "Del Boy" Trotter visits his doctor for a heart check-up. "Do you smoke, Mr Trotter?" asks the doctor. "Not right now, thank you doctor," he responds.

The joke's incongruity, of course, lies in the unlikely offer of a cigarette by a doctor to a patient concerned about his heart. It is only once we understand the mismatch that we get the joke. "Humour seems to be a product of humans' ability to make rapid, intuitive judgements" about a situation, followed by "slower, deliberative assessments" which resolve incongruities, says Karli Watson of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

But which parts of the brain carry out these processes? To find out, Joseph Moran, then at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, used functional MRI to scan the brains of volunteers while they watched popular TV sitcoms. The experiments revealed a distinct pattern of neural activity that occurs in response to a funny joke, with the left posterior temporal gyrus and left inferior frontal gyrus seeing the most activity. These regions are normally linked to language comprehension and the ability to adjust the focus of our attention, which would seem to correspond to the process of incongruity-resolution at the heart of a good joke (NeuroImage, vol 21, p 1055).

Further research, conducted by Dean Mobbs, then at Stanford University in California, uncovered a second spike of activity in the brain's limbic system - associated with dopamine release and reward processing - which may explain the pleasure felt once you "get" the joke (Neuron, vol 40, p 1041).

Examining one particular part of the limbic system - the ventral striatum - was especially revealing, as its level of activity corresponded with the perceived funniness of a joke. "It's the same region that is involved in many different types of reward, from drugs, to sex and our favourite music," says Mobbs, now at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK. "Humour thus taps into basic rewards systems that are important to our survival."

Yet humour is a far more complex process than primeval pleasures like sex or food. In addition to the two core processes of getting the joke and feeling good about it, jokes also activate regions of the frontal and cingulate cortex, which are linked with association formation, learning and decision-making (Cerebral Cortex, vol 17, p314). The team also found heightened activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and the frontoinsular cortex - regions that are only present in humans and, in a less developed form, great apes. Indeed, the fact that these regions are involved suggests that humour is an advanced ability which may have only evolved in early humans, says Watson, who conducted the research.

No two brains are the same, however, and how these differences are reflected in our sense of humour is the subject of much research. Men and women, for example, seem to process jokes slightly differently. Although both sexes laugh at roughly the same number of jokes, women show greater activity in the left prefrontal cortex than men (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 102, p 16496). "This suggests a greater degree of executive processing and language-based decoding," says Mobbs. As a result, women take significantly longer than men to decide whether they find something funny, though that doesn't seem to spoil their enjoyment of the joke. Indeed, women show a greater response in the limbic system than men, suggesting they feel a greater sense of reward.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, personality also appears to play a key role in humour. Mobbs has shown that people who are classed as extrovert and emotionally stable have increased activity in reward areas of the brain during exposure to funny stimuli. Neurotic people, in contrast, have less of a reward response compared with the average person (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 102, p 16502). "This suggests that personality style may be important in how we process humour," Mobbs says.

Twisted logic

Whether our neural circuitry can explain specific preferences for certain types of humour remains an open question. To investigate, Andrea Samson at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland used MRI to scan volunteers' brains while they looked at 90 different non-verbal cartoons reflecting various styles of humour. As a control, the volunteers also viewed pictures that could not be interpreted in any meaningful or funny way.

Surprising results emerged from that experiment. Although you might expect the subject matter - music or politics, for example - to determine joke preference, Samson found that it is the way a joke is solved that is most important. "The logic by which the incongruity is resolved matters most, in terms of what kind of person a joke appeals to," she says (see "What your sense of humour says about you").

There is a serious note to this work. The researchers hope that pinning down the brain processes involved in understanding jokes could shed light on a number of medical conditions. Mobbs, for example, hopes that studying humour will provide insights into depression. "It is believed that the reward system is disrupted in depression and it would be interesting to see if this deficit extends to more complex social processes such as humour," he says.

Samson, meanwhile, hopes it could contribute to our understanding of autism. Previous research has suggested that people with autism have difficulty understanding comedy, but her work shows that they can understand and appreciate certain types of jokes as well as anyone (see "The mechanics of a joke"). This could change the way we interact with autistic children, she says.

More than anything, the recent research confirms the fact that humour, an oft-neglected trait when considering our cognitive skills, requires a tremendous amount of brain power. "Getting a joke would seem - on the surface - to be a very trivial, intuitive process. But brain imaging is showing us that there is more going on than we might think," says Samson.

What your sense of humour says about you

Most types of humour, including jokes and cartoons, rely on some kind of incongruity between two elements that needs a second's thought before it can be understood. The extent to which this mismatch can be resolved differs between jokes, however.

Some have a clean punchline that ties up all the loose ends, while in "nonsense" humour the incongruity can only be partially resolved, leaving a gap in the person's understanding. The cartoons to the right should give some idea of the difference between the two styles of joke.

For years, nonsense jokes have been considered to be more sophisticated and philosophical than classic, resolvable humour (known technically as "incongruity-resolution humour") - consider the reputation of Monty Python's Flying Circus compared with that of Friends, for example. "It was previously thought that nonsense humour was more complex in terms of thought process," says psychologist Andrea Samson at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.

Samson's recent work suggests otherwise. When comparing MRI scans of people as they viewed both straight and nonsense humour, she found that straight humour evoked significantly more brain activity than a surreal joke in most volunteers. "Making sense out of opposed scripts and integrating this information seems to be a more complex process than simply laughing about nonsense," she says.

The degree to which Samson's volunteers "got" the joke was reflected in one small region of the brain called the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), with the most activity occurring when the resolvable cartoons were viewed but no activity for the unfunny control images (Neuropsychologia, vol 47, p 1023). The surreal cartoons fell somewhere in between.

"Although the attempt to resolve the incongruity is present with nonsense humour, this effort does not lead to a complete resolution of the incongruity and therefore to less activation of the TPJ," says Samson. What's more, if someone failed to get the joke, the rostral cingulate zone of the brain became more active - a region thought to pick up on errors in the way we behave and monitor conflicts.

Experience Seekers

Not everyone reacted more strongly to resolvable humour, however; those with one particular personality type found the surreal cartoons more rewarding. These people, dubbed "experience seekers", are defined by a desire to pursue novel sensations, stimulation and experiences, whether it's through art, travel, music or an unconventional living style.

When processing any type of funny cartoon, experience seekers showed greater activity in the TPJ, hippocampus and prefrontal areas of the brain than their fellow subjects, which might reflect their adventurous mindset, says Samson.

"The hippocampus is an area known to process novel stimuli," she says. "It could be that humorous stimuli give experience seekers an opportunity for mental exploration of novelty, and this 'lights up' the hippocampus."

Indeed, a previous study at the University of Kentucky in Lexington found that experience seekers have greater hippocampal volume, which would seem to fit with this result (Neuropsychologia, vol 45, p 2874).

The difference was most marked when the experience seekers viewed the surreal cartoons. Importantly, unlike the other subjects, their brains responded most strongly to the nonsense humour rather than the incongruity-resolution humour.

Samson reckons that the nonsense humour may allow the experience seeker's inquisitive brains even more opportunity for exploration than the resolvable humour, which could explain their preference.

The mechanics of a joke

Most jokes can be divided into certain "logical mechanisms" that determine which cognitive process your mind goes through before it understands the humour.

Many cartoons, for example, rely on our understanding of other people, playing on the fact that one character doesn't understand what the other is thinking. To get the joke you need a "theory of mind", allowing you to understand the different state of mind of each character. Perhaps unsurprisingly, brain scans have shown that areas involved in social cognition are activated when viewing this kind of cartoon.

The degree to which we empathise with others has a profound impact on our appreciation of this kind of joke. Andrea Samson at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, showed this when she compared the responses of people with two different personality types. It turned out that "empathisers", who identify emotions and thoughts in others and respond appropriately, found the theory-of-mind jokes much funnier than "systemisers", who prefer to think about things in logical, abstract terms.

At the far end of this scale are people with autism, who have an impaired ability to empathise with other people. Some previous studies had found that people with autism have trouble understanding jokes, but since these studies hadn't considered different styles of humour, it wasn't clear whether they were unable to understand all kinds of humour, or whether it was simply theory-of-mind style jokes that had them stumped.

Samson decided to investigate. She found that while volunteers with Asperger's syndrome had difficulty understanding and appreciating theory-of-mind-based cartoons, they enjoyed visual puns, which do not rely on empathy, to the same extent as a control group. "Visual puns are much more abstract than theory-of-mind cartoons," says Samson. "To understand the joke, you have to realise that one visual element refers simultaneously to two meanings."

Some researchers had suspected that an element of empathy is needed for all kinds of humour - not just theory-of-mind jokes. But the fact that people with Asperger's syndrome get these visual puns shows that they don't lack an overall sense of humour, says Samson, just that they are poorly equipped to "get" a certain type of joke.

Daniel Elkan is a freelance journalist based in London



And my balcony is NOT your flophouse!!!!!!!


My warrior has emerged!!!!


I have been away for most of the winter in Arizona and when my friend told me that she had called the manager into my suite to take a look at the pigeon droppings, I thought...oh well...I am used to taking a little shit...but enough is enough..


I live very near the ocean....I love birds...seagulls, crows, even pretty pigeons until they mess with my flowers.


I came home to find a balcony full of pigeon shit and I accepted it...I got out my shopvac and I cleaned it up...and then I planted little planters...on my balcony, overlooking the Pacific and the Mountains...


I never even gave the bird shit another thought until now...

Oh I forgot to tell you.....that when the manager came into my apartment, they found a nest...a pigeon nest and discarded ....I am now finished with one kind of shit and facing another...


This morning, I found my lovely planter, fully planted with perennials, geranium, bicopa, fuschia, ivy......................................................dismantled!


There is barely any remnant left of my perennial that was thriving in the centre of the planter...


These birds have been shooooooooooooooooooooooooooooed away this morning 7 times and still they come back....I tried to spray them with soapy water...(wouldn't hurt God's creature, only torment them)


but to no avail.....


so.....I figured that they want my planting material...They keep showing up with twigs in their beaks...looking for more...


I am thinking...Come here you varmint, I'll give you more....

so I put out some twigs and errected my water spray bottle where my perennial used to thrive...


Now I have to go out...

If I lose any more plants to these shit disturbers....I am camping out tonight....with my ...............................not sure yet..


Wish me luck.


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