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Your Brain on Cartoons

Friday, December 19, 2008 - 10:28 AM

cartoon (scurzuzu)

A neuroscientist at Stanford recently used an fMRI machine to peer into people’s brains while they watch cartoons, and found that men and women were responding differently.

“The first-of-its-kind imaging study showed that women activate the parts of the brain involved in language processing and working memory more than men when viewing funny cartoons. Women were also more likely to activate with greater intensity the part of the brain that generates gratifying feelings in response to new experiences.”


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Comments [19]


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Mar. 07 2013 02:24 AM

I'd heard that about women's brains reacting more to humor, but I can't say I'm satisfied with the "men expect it more" explination. Seems to me that the gender more often encouraged to engage in social behaviours might spend more time empathizing with the characters or thinking of comedic situations in terms of social schemas.
I also like your choice of picture;
"Because it's cool"

Jan. 28 2009 03:35 PM

Lauren, I don't think you have to put "Female" on your resume--they will figure it out!

In my experience, women seem to enjoy cartoons less, so maybe this is why. If you're making it a "language and memory project", it's not going to be much fun. Maybe men react more viscerally, just taking it in--I think that is at least as valid an approach to cartoons!

Jan. 20 2009 08:57 AM
Some Ugly Hobo


Jan. 14 2009 08:53 PM


That was my happy lil eyes.

Jan. 14 2009 08:51 PM

Yay Zim! Good taste.

Jan. 07 2009 05:12 PM
Green Faced Pizza Man

Geoff doesn't afraid of anything.

Jan. 01 2009 05:59 PM

Geoff, what you need is a time machine, not a sandwiche to go back to the 50s!

Jan. 01 2009 04:44 AM

All this really proves is that women are in fact more stupid than men as proven by the scientific tests showing they're easily amused by shows for children. What I want to know is who let them out of the kitchen in the first place? I want a sandwich!

Dec. 30 2008 06:42 PM

I'm curious to hear how the cartoon-watching experience differs from, say, live-action-watching experiences. How did the study determine that it was animated images specifically that produced this response? Do various animation techniques evoke differing responses? I imagine the fMRI of a subject watching Svankmajer-esque stop-motion animation would look different than that of a subject watching cell-animated Bugs Bunny. (I'm female and get a kick out of both!)

Dec. 29 2008 08:06 PM

Does this mean that I'll be a good animator since I'm female? I've got 2.5 years of schooling before I go into the industry.

Maybe I can put this on my resume.

... hmmm

Dec. 29 2008 10:09 AM

"The researchers also found that the funnier the cartoon, the more the reward center was activated in women. That was not the case in men who seemed to "expect" the cartoons to be funny from the start."

There it is...I couldn't figure out why men typically tend to find cartoons funnier, yet this study seemed to indicate was simply that men EXPECTED the cartoons to be funny, so when the women actually found the humor in them, their pleasure response was much greater.

Dec. 23 2008 06:31 PM

"Women were also more likely to activate with greater intensity the part of the brain that generates gratifying feelings in response to new experiences.”"

I wonder if that means they simply failed to control for how much previous cartoon watching experience the two groups had

Dec. 22 2008 04:34 PM

I would like to second Ryan's comment, I am overjoyed that you chose Zim and Gir to represent cartoons!

As for the results, I think us men just like to simply enjoy cartoons, not put much brainpower into them.

I'd like to see this study repeated with other types of TV too.

Dec. 22 2008 02:02 PM

I have no comment really other than cartoons are awesome, and the fact that you chose Zim and Gir to represent the cartoons of the world makes me irrationally happy.

Oh, and people who think that cartoons are for kids are crazy.

Dec. 22 2008 05:58 AM

I want an image of my own cartoon-influenced MRI framed on my wall. It would probably come out looking like some kind of rainbow christmas tree with unicorns and baby pandas.

Dec. 22 2008 02:09 AM

Egads, proof that we men really are shallow?

Dec. 21 2008 01:07 AM
Will Kistler

Maybe I can use this information to get my girlfriend interested in cartoons :)

Dec. 19 2008 05:40 PM

Nevertheless, I still (appear) to enjoy cartoons much more than my significant other.

Dec. 19 2008 04:54 PM

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