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Biol Psychol. 2013 Apr;93(1):33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2013.01.014. Epub 2013 Feb 1.

I got it! Transient cardiovascular response to the perception of humor.

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Institute of Physiology, Medical University of Graz, Austria.


The aim of the present study was to examine the transient cardiovascular response to the perception of humor, that is, the impact of the cognitive process of insight as well as the modulation of the response by the affective appraisal of the humor. To this end transient heart rate, stroke volume, cardiac output, and blood pressure responses were obtained in the immediate context of detecting the punch line in cartoons. Fine-grained analysis of the transient behavior of cardiovascular variables during viewing the cartoons was contrasted to non-humorous cartoon-like pictures. The detection of a punch line was accompanied by relative heart rate acceleration in conjunction with increased cardiac output, which was more pronounced the more amusing the cartoons were perceived. These results provide first evidence of the usefulness of cardiovascular variables for detecting the moment of insight and the quantification of the size of the emotional response accompanying it.

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