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Scientific explanation for laughing?

  1. Sep 23, 2003 #1


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    what triggers laughter? i am speaking of the kind that brings you to tears, makes your belly shake, makes you smile real big...what chemicals are responsible for true laughter? or is it a socially learned response?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2003 #2


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    I don't know the exact science behind it, but you pose the question as if neurochemistry and learned social behavior are two mutually exclusive things when in fact they are different names for the same thing. If you learn a behavior what you have done is forged a new set of neural connections in the brain, and neurons propogate their signals through the brain via neurotransmitters (chemicals).

    That having been said, it's a good bet that dopamine and/or seratonin are involved in the subjective experience of humor. I'll leave it to someone with more knowledge on the matter to give a more definitive answer.
  4. Sep 23, 2003 #3
    A theory of mine is that one is more ticklish nearer the heart (for most of us, on the left side of the chest near that elbow), a protective reflex causing the arm to clench and submissive "laughter" to ensue.

    Laughter is also one of those adaptations, like social hierarchy, that displaces social tension. In this manner, it can be used to ridicule or express approval.
  5. Sep 24, 2003 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    This turns out to be an interesting question.

    Researchers help unravel the mechanics of laughter
    What’s going on in our brains when we giggle and guffaw?
    http://www.artsci.gmcc.ab.ca/people/easterbrookm/index/mechanics.htm [Broken]

    P 8 of 10


    Some related links:
    It's a touch funny, but studies on tickling are serious
    By Usha lee McFarling
    Mercury News Washington Bureau
    December 1, 1998
    http://members.tripod.com/Bagelfather/funstuff/ticklenews2.html [Broken]


    Study Says Tickling May Aid In Depression:
    http://namipa.nami.org/spring99/tickling.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  6. Sep 27, 2003 #5
    Wasn't there also a theory (or, at least, an hypothesis) that laughter was a stifled cry during infanthood (if that's even a word...I mean during the time when you are an infant )?
  7. Sep 27, 2003 #6
    Infancy. Too many words and not enough time.
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