What’s so funny IELTS Reading Answers
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Reading Passage 2, Questions 14-27
- NOT GIVEN
- NOT GIVEN
- problem solving
- temporal lobes
- evaluating information
READING PASSAGE 2– What’s so funny IELTS Reading
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-27, which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.
What’s so funny
John McCrone reviews recent research on humor.
The joke comes over the headphones: ‘Which side of a dog has the most hair? The left.’ No, not funny. Try again. “Which side of a dog has the most hair? The outside.’ Hah! The punchline is silty yet fitting, tempting a smile, even a laugh, Laughter has always struck people as deeply mysterious, perhaps pointless. The writer Arthur Koestler dubbed it the luxury reflex: ‘unique in that it serves no apparent biological purpose’.
Theories about humour have an ancient pedigree. Plato expressed the idea that humour is simply a delighted feeling of superiority over others. Kant and Freud felt that joke-telling relies on building up a psychic tension which is safely punctured by the ludicrousness of
the punchline. But most modern humor theorists have settled on some version of Aristotle’s belief that jokes are based on a reaction to or resolution of incongruity when the punchline is either nonsense or, though appearing silly, has a clever second meaning.
Graeme Ritchie, a computational linguist in Edinburgh, studies the linguistic structure of jokes in order to understand not only humor but language understanding and reasoning in machines. He says that while there is no single format for jokes, many revolve around a sudden and surprising conceptual shift. A comedian will present a situation followed by an unexpected interpretation that is also apt.
So even if a punchline sounds silly, the listener can see there is a clever semantic fit and that sudden mental ‘Aha!’ is the buzz that makes us laugh. Viewed from this angle, humor is just a form of creative insight, a sudden leap to a new perspective.
However, there is another type of laughter, the laughter of social appeasement and it is important to understand this too. Play is a crucial part of development in most young mammals. Rats produce ultrasonic squeaks to prevent their scuffles from turning nasty.
Chimpanzees have a ‘play face – a gaping expression accompanied by a panting ‘ah, ah’ noise. In humans, these signals have mutated into smiles and laughs. Researchers believe social situations, rather than cognitive events such as jokes, trigger these instinctual
markers of play or appeasement. People laugh on fairground rides or when tickled to flag a play situation, whether they feel amused or not.
Both social and cognitive types of laughter tap into the same expressive machinery in our brains, the emotion and motor circuits that produce smiles and excited vocalizations. However, if cognitive laughter is the product of more general thought processes, it should
result from more expansive brain activity.
Psychologist Vinod Goel investigated humor using the new technique of ‘single event’ functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI). An MRI scanner uses magnetic fields and radio waves to track the changes in oxygenated blood that accompany the mental activity.
Until recently, MRI scanners needed several minutes of activity and so could not be used to track rapid thought processes such as comprehending a joke. New developments now allow half-second ‘snapshots’ of all sorts of reasoning and problem-solving activities.
Although Goel felt being inside a brain scanner was hardly the ideal place for appreciating a joke, he found evidence that understanding a joke involves a widespread mental shift. His scans showed that at the beginning of a joke the listener’s prefrontal cortex lit up,
particularly the right prefrontal believed to be critical for problem-solving.
But there was also activity in the temporal lobes at the side of the head (consistent with attempts to rouse stored knowledge) and in many other brain areas. Then when the punchline arrived, a new
area sprang to life – the orbital prefrontal cortex. This patch of brain tucked behind the orbits of the eyes is associated with evaluating information.
Making a rapid emotional assessment of the events of the moment is an extremely demanding job for the brain, animal or human. Energy and arousal levels may need to be returned in the blink of an eye. These abrupt changes will produce either positive or negative feelings. The orbital cortex, the region that becomes active in Goel’s experiment, seems the best candidate for the site that feeds such feelings into higher-level thought processes, with its close connections to the brain’s sub-cortical arousal apparatus and
centres of metabolic control.
All warm-blooded animals make constant tiny adjustments in arousal in response to external events, but humans, who have developed a much more complicated internal life as a result of language, respond emotionally not only to their surroundings but to their
own thoughts. Whenever a sought-for answer snaps into place, there is a shudder of płeased recognition. Creative discovery being pleasurable, humans have learned to find ways of milking this natural response. The fact that jokes tap into our general evaluative
machinery explains why the line between funny and disgusting, or funny and frightening, can be so fine. Whether a joke gives pleasure or pain depends on a person’s outlook.
Humour may be a luxury, but the mechanism behind it is no evolutionary accident. As Peter Derks, a psychologist at Williami and Mary College in Virginia, says: 1 like to think of humor as the distorted mirror of the mind. It’s creative, perceptual, analytical and lingual. If we can figure out how the mind processes humor, then we’ll have a pretty good handle on how it works in general.’
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Questions 14-20(What’s so funny IELTS Reading)
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2?
In boxes 14-20 on your answer sheet, write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this
- Arthur Koestler considered laughter biologically important in several ways.
- Plato believed humor to be a sign of above-average intelligence.
- Kant believed that a successful joke involves the controlled release of nervous energy.
- Current thinking on humor has largely ignored Aristotle’s view on the subject.
- Graeme Ritchie’s work links jokes to artificial intelligence.
- Most comedians use personal situations as a source of humor
- Chimpanzees make particular noises when they are playing.
Questions 21-23– What’s so funny IELTS Reading
The diagram below shows the areas of the brain activated by jokes.
Label the diagram.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 21-23 on your answer sheet.
Questions 24-27– What’s so funny IELTS Reading
Complete each sentence with the correct ending A-G below.
Write the correct letter A-G in boxes 24-27 on your answer sheet.
- One of the brain’s most difficult tasks is to
- Because of the language they have developed, humans
- Individual responses to humor
- Peter Derks believes that humor
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