Emojis can elicit irony in brain responses: Study

CHICAGO (Xinhua) – Researchers at the University of Illinois (UI) have studied the brain wave patterns of people reading sentences paired with emojis. Sometimes the emojis matched the literal meaning of the sentence, but in other cases they were construed as indicating irony.

The researchers found the participants’ brains processed the ironic emojis in the same way they process ironic language.

In three experiments, a total of 106 participants read sentences followed by an emoji, either a smile, frown or wink, while their brain waves were recorded. The participants then answered comprehension questions about how they ultimately interpreted the meaning of the sentences. The questions probed whether the participants had interpreted the sentence literally, based on only the words, or whether the wink emoji had changed their interpretation to a nonliteral (ironic) reading of the sentence.

When comparing the brain responses elicited by the ironic (wink) emojis with the nonironic emojis (smile or frown), the researchers found the brain-wave patterns elicited by the ironic emojis looked just like those seen in previous studies with ironic verbal language.