The effect of humor on cognitive control of IGT performance: a
psychophysiological study of gender differences
Background/objectives: To assess the effect of humor on IGT
decision-making as a function of gender, and to explore the neural
correlates underlying this effect. Method: We randomly assigned
participants (N = 60; 30 men and 30 women) to either an experimental
Humor Group (Hg) or a control non-Humor Group (NHg) and asked them to
perform a long-version (500 trials) of the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT).
Participants’ EEG response was recorded while solving the IGT. Results:
Men in the Hg demonstrated impaired monitoring and learning of the task
compared to men in the NHg. Later, women in the Hg, exhibited more
integrated attention to rewards and punishments along with a decrease in
random choices when compared with women in the NHg. Behavioral and EEG
results support that humor is beneficial for women’s cognitive control
of IGT performance but impairs it in men.