It’s no laughing matter: a new study suggests older adults have a harder time getting jokes as they age. The research indicates that because older adults may have greater difficulty with cognitive flexibility, abstract reasoning and short-term memory, they also have greater difficulty with tests of humor comprehension.
Researchers at Washington University tested about 40 healthy adults over age 65 and 40 undergraduate students with exercises in which they had to complete jokes and stories. Participants also had to choose the correct punch line for verbal jokes and select the funny ending to series of cartoon panels.
Although the evidence sounds compelling, the cartoon exercise involved finding a funny ending to a Ferd’nand comic strip. Why didn’t they just make the old-timers rhyme “month” and “orange” while they were at it?