People hear sarcasm better when it’s presented to their left ear

The point comes from The Frontal Cortex blog, along with this right-left brain discussion:

One of my favorite metaphors for our hemispheres comes from Jonathan Schooler, at UCSB. He argues that our hemispheres follow the same information processing strategy as the visual system. “One of the most fundamental features of how the brain sees is that it actually has two different ways of making sense of the world,” he told me recently.

“We’ve got one visual system that’s interested in fine-grained details and clarity. That’s the system associated with the fovea and cones in the retina, which we use to perceive things like words on the page. But we’ve also got a more coarse-grained system too, which allows us to quickly grasp an entire scene, or to see some movement out of the corner of our eye.”

According to this metaphor, the left hemisphere excels at the fine-grained and literal, while the right hemisphere is better at coarse-grained analysis, allowing us to make sense of things within their context.

Remember: left eye/ear, right brain; right eye/ear, left brain.

2 thoughts on “People hear sarcasm better when it’s presented to their left ear

  1. Is this an appropriate forum to ask about your upcoming tour of the Uganda displaced person camps, with Angelina Jolie and the Invisible Children folks? Hope it goes well!

  2. Coming in a bit late: The “left eye” and “right eye” in the last sentence should be “left half of the visual field” and “right half of the visual field.” E.g., the left hemisphere gets information from both eyes, but only from the left side of what each eye sees. (Unless that was some kind of clever sarcastic remark rather than a mistake. Maybe I should try reading this post through only the left side of my visual field.)