To resolve or not to resolve, that is the question: The dual-path model of incongruity resolution and absurd verbal humor by fMRI

R.H. Dai, H.-C. Chen, Y.C. Chan, C.-L. Wu, Ping Li, S.L. Cho, J.-F. Hu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017 Dai, Chen, Chan, Wu, Li, Cho and Hu.It is well accepted that the humor comprehension processing involves incongruity detection and resolution and then induces a feeling of amusement. However, this three-stage model of humor processing does not apply to absurd humor (so-called nonsense humor). Absurd humor contains an unresolvable incongruity but can still induce a feeling of mirth. In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify the neural mechanisms of absurd humor. Specifically, we aimed to investigate the neural substrates associated with the complete resolution of incongruity resolution humor and partial resolution of absurd humor. Based on the fMRI data, we propose a dual-path model of incongruity resolution and absurd verbal humor. According to this model, the detection and resolution for the incongruity of incongruity resolution humor activate brain regions involved in the temporo-parietal lobe (TPJ) implicated in the integration of multiple information and precuneus, likely to be involved in the ability of perspective taking. The appreciation of incongruity resolution humor activates regions the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), implicated in autobiographic or event memory retrieval, and parahippocampal gyrus (PHG), implying the funny feeling. By contrast, the partial resolution of absurd humor elicits greater activation in the fusiform gyrus which have been implicated in word processing, inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) for the process of incongruity resolution and superior temporal gyrus (STG) for the pragmatic awareness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number498
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberAPR
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Absurd humor
  • Dual-path model
  • Incongruity resolution humor
  • Perspective taking
  • Pragmatics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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