Feeds

Aussie boffins use sarcasm to investigate brain illness

Oh rilly??

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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 personality and behaviour," lead author John Hodges told AFP.

"They find it difficult to interact with people, they don't pick up on social cues, they lack empathy, they make bad judgements... People with FTD become very gullible and they often part with large amounts of money," he added.

The research involved groups of FTD patients and Alzheimer's sufferers being shown skits played by actors. The same statements would be made deadpan, then again with heavy sarcasm.

The Alzheimer's patients would generally understand the difference, but the change was lost on those afflicted with FTD.

"One of the things about FTD patients is that they don't detect humour... patients with FTD are very literal and they take what is being said as genuine and sincere," said Hodges.

The research is regarded as medically significant because doctors often find it difficult to tell the difference between FTD and other mental illnesses.

The AFP reporters apparently asked Hodges whether the test would still work on "people from countries not renowned for their appreciation of sarcasm or irony".

Apparently he believed the test "could be modified". ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.