Your Brain on Laughter


Are they laughing at you or laughing with you? Your brain can tell the difference.

Curious about how different types of laughter — mocking, joyful or ticklish — are understood, researchers led by Dirk Wildgruber, professor of neuropsychiatry at Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Germany decided to explore what these different expressions of hilarity looked like in the brain.

In contrast, seeing facial expressions (even if you are just imagining them when you are listening to laughter) might be more important in recognizing joy. Jaak Panksepp, professor of integrative physiology and neuroscience at Washington State University and a leading researcher on laughter, who was not associated with the study, called it “wonderful.” He says, “It is remarkable that joyful and taunting laughter could not be observed with traditional blood-flow measures but could by more modern connectivity analyses that tell us how quite different brain regions are working together when listening to various kinds of laughter.”

Read the whole story: TIME

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