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J Child Neurol. 2012 Mar;27(3):310-8. doi: 10.1177/0883073811419259. Epub 2011 Oct 21.

Differences between humor comprehension and appreciation in healthy children and children with epilepsy.

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Department of Psychology, University of Tartu and Center of Behavioral and Health Sciences, Tartu, Estonia.


This study explored verbal, visual, motor, and tactile humor appreciation and comprehension among preschool children with epilepsy as compared with healthy children. Participants included 32 children with focal epilepsy, as well as 70 healthy controls. The results suggest that children with epilepsy assess humor dichotomously (as either not funny at all or as extremely funny) and generally as less amusing when compared with ratings given by controls (M = 6.08, and M = 7.44, P = .01, respectively). They also gave significantly lower ratings to verbal jokes than to visual jokes. Furthermore, children with epilepsy assessed the jokes they understood (ie, gave expected explanations to the content of jokes) as less funny. An important finding from our study was that children with epilepsy assess aggressive humor as not funny. The most frequent emotional reaction in both groups to jokes from all subtests was a smile, followed by a half-smile.

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