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Good news for joke-tellers everywhere: Laughter can make a bad joke seem funnier, a study finds. People found jokes paired with laughter funnier than jokes without, and the more natural sounding the laughter was, the better. This effect was the same for people who have autism as it was for those who don’t, which suggests that autistic people may not interpret all social cues as differently as expected.
“There’s quite a lot of research arguing that people with autism process social information differently, and there is a little bit of evidence that they process laughter differently,” said Sophie Scott, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London who was a co-author on the study published in Current Biology. This research suggests that the way people with autism interpret laughter may not be so different after all.
People with autism tend to have trouble with social interactions, which could stem from how they process social cues like laughter.
In order to study how individuals with autism and those without process laughter, a research team led by University College London Ph.D. student Qing Ceci Cai leveraged the power of the pun.
Ready, set, laugh
Cai scoured the internet for simple jokes involving puns and wordplay. “What’s round and sounds like a trumpet? A crumpet!” was a favorite of both Cai and the study participants.
The jokes might not be intrinsically hilarious, but that was intentional, Cai said. By using “bad” jokes, the researchers could be sure that there was plenty of room for listeners’ opinions of them to improve.
The study participants, which included people who have autism as well as people who don’t, listened to the jokes as told by a professional comedian and rated how funny each joke was on a scale from one to seven. Some jokes were followed by a recording of laughter, while others were not.
The researchers found that when jokes were paired with laughter, they were rated 15% funnier on average than when they weren’t.
In addition to learning how the presence of laughter affected how funny the jokes seemed, the researchers also wanted to know whether natural-sounding chuckles would affect the result more than forced laughter. They asked a separate group of volunteers, including coauthor Scott, to laugh on cue — generating “canned” laughter — and then recorded them laughing spontaneously at funny videos.
“That was quite good fun,” Scott recalled. “Basically we just did whatever it took to make each other laugh short of tickling each other.”
While any kind of laughter made the jokes seem funnier, spontaneous laughter had a stronger effect than canned laughter, increasing the perceived funniness of the jokes by nearly 8% on average.
“When people started broadcasting comedy on the radio, they used audience laughter to signify that it was a comedy,” Scott said. “What our study shows is that it might not just help the listeners know what’s going on, it may actually help them to find it funnier.”
Not so different after all
Although the autistic listeners found the jokes funnier overall, switching from forced to natural laughter increased both groups’ enjoyment of the jokes by the same amount. The researchers believe this shows that people with autism process laughter in the same way as people without autism.
Robert Provine, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who wasn’t involved in the research, described the study as a “unique contribution” to the field.
“Increasing humor in our lives has the potential to benefit us both mentally and physically,” Shelia Kennison, an Oklahoma State University psychology professor, wrote in an email. She also was not involved in the research. “These results suggest that individuals with autism stand to benefit from these positive benefits of humor, too.”
Cai hopes that her research will “bring mutual understanding between neurotypical [people without autism] and autistic people.” She said that the feedback has been valuable and encouraging, with some people commenting that studies like this helped them appreciate their autistic siblings’ and kids’ “unique expressiveness.”
The researchers plan to perform a similar study while scanning participants’ brains to learn more about how they process laughter.
“There have been studies of laughter in the brain scanner and there have been studies of humor, but there haven’t been studies of the two together,” Scott said. She anticipates that this stage of the research may be more difficult. “It’s possible that people just won’t find anything funny as they’re having their brains scanned.” (VOA)
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday asked the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to prevent dumping of toxic wastes in India. Speaking at an event to celebrate DRI's 64th foundation day, Sitharaman lauded DRI's compact strength of about 800 officers for their relentless efforts despite the imminent risks. The Finance Minister stated that the officers may be keeping a low profile, but they are acting like the frontline defence forces, doing spectacular work in safeguarding the economic frontiers of the country. "The recent smuggling attempts of huge quantities of narcotics, gold, red sanders, ivory, cigarettes etc. unearthed by DRI were appreciated by the Finance Minister," the Ministry of Finance said in a statement.
"Sitharaman said that the message through such enforcement actions should be such that these acts of brazen attempts at smuggling are nipped in the bud," the statement added. The Finance Minister also said that better coordination among the law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies and sharing of actionable intelligence are the way forward in protecting the frontiers of the country more efficiently. "Sitharaman also asked the DRI to focus on interdicting dual use technology items as well as preventing the dumping of toxic wastes in our country," the statement said. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Nirmala Sitharaman, India, Toxic Wastes)
Tech giant Amazon has expanded the sound detection capabilities of Alexa along with more features. Alexa can now identify the sounds of running water and appliances beeping, reports Android Central. This means users can set up an Alexa routine to notify themselves when the washer beeps to indicate that laundry is finished, the report said.
When Alexa detects that the faucet has been left open, it will send users a notification as well so they can take appropriate action, it added. Amazon previously said at its event in September that it would add the ability to programme Alexa to recognise custom sounds, but that feature has yet to arrive. Having said that, the two new sound detection capabilities not only help users save energy, but they also make it easier to avoid paying for unnecessary charges on your home utilities, the report said.
The retail giant has also announced ultrasound motion detection, which will allow you to set up "Occupancy Routines" on additional Echo devices. This feature allows your smart speaker to detect nearby motion and initiate a routine, such as turning on the lights. It is compatible with many of the best Alexa speakers including the 4th-gen Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: laundry, appliances, beeping, running water, Sound, Alexa , Amazon)
By Olivia Sarkar
Comforting Christmas cocktails help you enjoy the celebrations and get into the festive spirit. The Leela Palaces, Hotels, and Resorts offer distinctive cocktails ranging from Hot Toddies to Decadent Egg Nogs. Sit back and enjoy one martini at a time to make the festive season a little brighter.
Dirty Chai Eggnog:
30 ml Bourbon
30 ml Baileys
90 ml Hot milk tea
Sweet cream foam to top up
Cinnamon powder and star anise.
1. In a heavy bottomed med sauce pot, prepare tea with milk. Strain and let it cool.
2. In a cocktail shaker add egg white, Bourbon, Baileys with whole spices. Shake well.
3. Pour the tea in the glass followed by ingredients from cocktail shaker.
4. Garnish with nutmeg and cinnamon powder, whole star anise
Eggnog is a Christmas favourite that is accustomed to toasts for good health and prosperity.| Pikist
Inspired by the Christmas Spirits and holiday flavours is a wonderful concoction of warm whisky, sweet vanilla, and thick butter.
45 ml Butter fat washed Whiskey
20 ml Ginger bread syrup
15 ml Spiced Apple liquor
2 dashes of Bitters
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker
2. Shake well
3. Pour into an old-fashioned glass
4. Garnish with Gingerbread cookie
Inspired by the Christmas Spirits and holiday flavors is a wonderful concoction of warm whisky, sweet vanilla, and thick butter. | Flickr
(Keywords: Santa's Apple, Egg Nogs, December, Cocktail, Cocktail, Christmas, holiday, celebrations)