Robert R. Provine, a neuroscientist who brought scientific rigor to the study of laughter, yawns, hiccups and other universal human behaviors that had previously gone largely unexplored, died Oct. 17 at a hospital in Baltimore. He was 76.
The cause was complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, said his wife, Helen Weems. Dr. Provine had spent four decades as a psychology professor at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County before his retirement in 2013. He continued to teach at the university in recent years as a professor emeritus
He was the author of two books for popular audiences, “Laughter: A Scientific Investigation” (2000) and “Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond” (2012). The publication New Scientist described him as “the man behind the first research into what really makes people laugh,” an endeavor that encompassed developmental and behavioral psychology, neuroscience and theories of evolution.
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