Humor plays an essential role in many facets of human life including psychological, social, and somatic functioning. Recently, neuroimaging has been applied to this critical human attribute, shedding light on the affective, cognitive, and motor networks involved in humor processing. To date, however, researchers have failed to demonstrate the subcortical correlates of the most fundamental feature of humor-reward. In an effort to elucidate the neurobiological substrate that subserves the reward components of humor, we undertook a high-field (3 Tesla) event-related functional MRI study. Here we demonstrate that humor modulates activity in several cortical regions, and we present new evidence that humor engages a network of subcortical regions including the nucleus accumbens, a key component of the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward system. Further, the degree of humor intensity was positively correlated with BOLD signal intensity in these regions. Together, these findings offer new insight into the neural basis of salutary aspects of humor.
View details for Web of Science ID 000187042200020
View details for PubMedID 14659102