back to article Aussie boffins use sarcasm to investigate brain illness

Australian scientists studying illnesses of the brain believe that an inability to detect when someone is being sarcastic is a symptom of dementia. In a study published today in the periodical Brain, brain brainiacs from New South Wales Uni outline their research. "Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) patients present changes in …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    The title

    Shouldn’t the title be 'Proof America is demented'?

  2. Joe



  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Beat me to it...

  4. Dr Jeep

    So, that covers...

    So that covers almost the entire American population*, then?

    Which does go along way to explain a great number of things...

    *Excluding British ex-pats.

  5. Red Bren

    Before the fanboys get here...

    "People with FTD become very gullible and they often part with large amounts of money"

    That explains all the Mac/Win/Pay*-tards!

    * Delete as applicable. Or insert your own favourite prefix.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    @ Joe

    Who knows I’m just f*cking bored.

  7. Alan Potter

    They used sarcasm - they knew all the tricks

    Didn't Monty Python do this with the Piranha Brothers?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The title

    Damn it, beat me to it.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    "Baldrick have you no idea what Irony is?"

    "Yeah, it's like Goldy or Bronzy, only it's made of Iron."

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    re: the title

    ... and me!

  11. Sam


    The Newman and Baddiel sarcasm sketches?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    People with FTD?!?

    "People with FTD become very gullible and they often part with large amounts of money"

    I thought FTD people tried to get OTHERS to part with large amounts of money by selling them flowers...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Oz Boffins....

    Now there's an oxymoron...

    and btw, Americans CAN do sarcasm - just try speaking to a Yank teenager.....

    It's irony they can't do.....


    Anyone want to play a game of "Hunt the IT Article" ? Clearly we're not going to find it on ElReg due to the influx of non-IT hacktards.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Damn ... beat me to saying beat me to it

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or from Betelgeuse?

    I thought an inability to understand sarcasm meant you might be from Betelgeuse.

    Clearly, I was mistaken.

    Also, don't the symptoms being described sound a little more like autism than dementia, per se?

  16. Stephen Sherry

    Holy crap, a wierd sounding study that explains a LOT

    I am very sarcastic, and find it necessary to more often than not to explain I'm only joking. They should see if toxin quantities in the food/water supply correlate with the higher amounts of FTD, becuase being an American, you're a lot more likely to be punched for being sarcastic because people get angry when they are confused and assume you're trying to make them feel stupid. And while many sarcastic people are often insulting, I like my participants to enjoy the joke too ;P Some people are just assholes though, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if FTD might be related to the number of assholes in a given population, like bored people with broken dreams vs. ADHD ;P

    But what do I know, I'm off to collect mud on my mud farm with the other peasants.

  17. IMVHO

    Further research is needed...

    "The research involved groups of FTD patients and Alzheimer's sufferers being shown skits played by actors."

    If the actors involved were those on Saturday Night Live (or most comedy on TV) as of late, I would fail to see the difference. Perhaps this symptom, as apparent in those with FTD, could be named "Less Amused with Musings of Emotionless Adults using Silly Sarcasm" (LAMEASS)" deficit.

    I think that the intensity of observation may have affected the results.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My mum died last night

    Litotes, zeugma and hyperbole are the chief suspects but I think it was a paedo what done it.

  19. beast666

    re: My mum died last night

    So did mine... but I fail to understand you. Wanker... I'd like to meet you on the street dude... Oh, if you are wondering, Its Moss Side MoFo... Bring it on

  20. mr.K

    So what would the test be?

    So a doctor that wants to figure out the difference should try to charge the patient a ridiculous amount of money? I think I know of a few countries they have already implemented this test.

  21. RogueElement


    but sadly all this study suggests is that 99% of the people I communicate with are demented... hmmmm maybe not such useless research after all.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Or from Betelgeuse?


    "Also, don't the symptoms being described sound a little more like autism than dementia, per se?"

    Dementia is the degradation of brain functions with age and infirmity, whereas autism is a life-long condition.

    Deficiencies in certain parts of the brain have certain effects, and it doesn't matter whether it's a lifelong condition, a degenerative disorder or the result of sudden brain damage.

    We define our disorders by both their origins and effects, and autism and FTD are significantly different in this respect. (For one thing, autism never gets worse, but FTD will do.)

  23. Neil Shepherd
    Thumb Down


    An interesting idea. Does that mean that many people on the Autistic spectrum also have a 'brain illness'?

    Failing to understand things such as sarcasm is often seen as part of the diagnostic criteria for ASDs (Autistic Spectrum Disorders)

  24. weirdcult

    @Stephen Sherry

    I would like some mud please.

  25. Glenn Charles
    IT Angle


    Couldn't you English boffins tell that was a sarcastic article??


    (an American) ((sigh))


  26. Bill

    Americans can do sarcasm...

    they just prefer not to as it's usually considered non-direct and insulting by them. Yeah, I know you Brits love it. But, when you use in on Americans they just think you're being snooty twats.

  27. RogueElement

    Americans can do sarcasm...

    they just prefer pancakes and syrup

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