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Do Older People Get Humor?

Do Older People Get Humor?

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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsradioA new study is raising some eyebrows over how sharp older people are mentally. It says people don't understand humor as much as they age.

A new study from Washington University says as people age they don't get jokes as well as before.

Comprehensive Psychological Services Resident, Ryan Houston, says, "If they watch Johnny Carson or something from back in the day, they probably would still get those jokes and think they were funny, whereas they might not think Jay Leno is so funny."

Researchers say a younger crowd recognized six percent more verbal jokes and successfully put together 14 percent more comic strips that an older crowd. They say this is linked to decreasing short-term memory and cognitive flexibility as people get older.

"They become less able to look at a situation from a different perspective," says Houston.

He says there are studies that show these things decrease naturally but not necessarily in all people, and sometimes it's by choice.

Houston says, "They see things in their perspective, and they want to keep seeing things in their perspective."

But some people including psychologists and stand-up comics question the results of this study. They say what is considered funny has changed since a generation ago.

Comedian Bob Bedore says he's performed for groups like retirement homes and he's bombed, but those audiences are just as sharp as any other.

Bedore says, "They get the jokes that are geared for them or toward what they know great." Bedore says people in retirement homes don't heckle when they don't like your act. They just ignore you and talk to each other about the last time "Jimmy" came to visit.

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