Richard Restak on Humor and the Brain

During Brain Awareness Week this year, Dana Alliance member Richard Restak, M.D., and three New Yorker cartoonists met at the Rubin Museum for a public discussion about humor and the brain. Those of us in the audience left with some key takeaways about how the brain processes humor and the benefits of cartoons: “Cartoons are great brain enhancers,” Restak said, because they make heavy demands on the organ. No stranger to the practical benefits of cartoons, Restak uses them in his neuropsychiatric practice as an evaluative tool to measure patients’ psychological well-being.

In a recent article for The American Scholar, Restak expands upon the Rubin Museum discussion, delving into the question, “Can humor help us better understand the most complex and enigmatic organ in the human body?”

Though quick to dismiss the notion that neuroscience can explain humor—“The brain has no humor ‘center,’” he writes—Restak discusses research on the neurological processes underlying laughter and mirth and three psychological theories about how humor works.

Read the complete article at The American Scholar website.

– Ann L. Whitman

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