We all know that laughter is the best medicine for the soul. But did you know that there’s some scientific truth to this? Or what about the fact that just about anyone, no matter where they’re from, can spot a fake, canned laugh. And did you know that the way someone laughs can give you some insight into their societal position. Laughter is a common human trait, one that scientists have studied several times. This list below contains some of those interesting findings.
1. The Best Medicine
Have you ever noticed how good you feel after a long, hard laugh? Even to the point of crying? That’s because the part of our brain responsible for laughter is also associated with emotional regulation. This was discovered during a 2019 study where a research team was performing electrical stimulation brain mapping on epilepsy patients. They discovered that stimulating the cingulum bundle caused uncontrollable laughter, smiling, relaxation and feelings of calmness. They believe that this could become a treatment for anxiety and depression in the future.
2. Fake Laughter
You’ve most likely been in a position where someone told a really bad joke and out of politeness, you let out a fake chuckle. Doesn’t matter if it was your boss or elderly neighbor, they most likely noticed that you didn’t mean it. In 2018, 884 people from 21 countries across six continents listened to recordings of laughs from English conversations, both spontaneous and forced. Regardless of their origin, more than half of the participants were able to spot a fake laugh. One of the scientists noted this is most likely due to fake laughter sounding more like speech than real laughter.
Turns out, individuals in positions of power have a much different laugh than those of a lower status. And yes, it’s pretty easy to pick up on this. It was proven in a 2014 study involving four fraternity brothers teasing each other: two newbies and two who’d been there for at least two years. What was so different about their laughter? Well, the older fraternity brothers had a louder and higher-pitched laugh and in a more variable tone. Surprisingly, the newbies only showed a dominant laughter when they got to do the teasing. But other than that, the older fraternity brothers were dominant the majority of the time.
Most people find laughter to be contagious since simply hearing it triggers the brain to prepare the facial muscles for laughing. But according to a 2017 research, boys at risk of psychopathy are generally immune to this effect. A total of 92 boys aged 11 and 16 years old were tested; 30 “normal” boys and 62 of them who displayed possible indicators of eventual psychopathy. All 62 of the potentially psychopathic boys displayed disruptive behaviors and had less activity in the regions of the brain associated with feeling others’ emotions and joining in laughter.
Believe it or not, laughing can even affect our appetite. In 2010, Dr, Lee S. Berk and Dr. Jerry Petrofsky studies how “mirthful laughter” affects the hormone levels that regulate appetite. Fourteen participants were shown a comedic video of their choice for the first half of the experiment, then the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, both videos spaced a week apart. The study revealed that watching a funny video led to a decrease in leptin and an increase in ghrelin, which is often seen after moderate exercise. Laughing did not make them hungry but rather it increased their appetites.
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