An increasingly twisted sense of humor may actually be a cause for alarm, says a recent study.
There is likely a link between a change in comedic temperament and dementia, a gradual deterioration of intellectual functions such as memory than can occur while other brain functions such as those of controlling functions and senses are retained.
The researchers from University College of London, spoke to friends and family of 48 dementia patients. The respondents had known the patients for over 15 years before the ailment overcame them and many said they noticed a change in their relatives’ sense of humor.
The results showed dementia patients laughed at “frankly inappropriate” moments before the onset of the disease. Such moments included watching news reports about natural disasters, or seeing a car parked badly.
One respondent even remembered the relative laughing when they had severely injured themselves.
The study also found dementia patients were more inclined to find slapstick comedy more funny than satirical.
An altered sense of humor is especially common in two types of dementia: ‘semantic’ and ‘frontotemporal,’ from which sufferers lose their ability to read social situations. It was also found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Speaking to the BBC, Dr Simon Ridley of Alzheimer’s Research UK said:
“This study highlights the importance of looking at the myriad of different symptoms that impact on daily life and relationships.
A deeper understanding of the full range of dementia symptoms will increase our ability to make a timely and accurate diagnosis.”