About Careers MedBlog Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Why Does 'The Whole World Laugh With You'?

by Rathi Manohar on July 25, 2010 at 11:15 AM
Font : A-A+

Why Does 'The Whole World Laugh With You'?

'Laugh and the whole world laughs with you', expressed Keats poetically, and today researchers have discovered a scientific explanation as to why laughter is so contagious.

Sophie Scott at University College London measured the brain activity of 20 volunteers in a functional MRI scanner while she played them laughter, squeals of triumph and moans of fear and disgust.

Advertisement

She also played a neutral, artificial sound that would have no specific meaning to the subjects.

It was found that all the emotive sounds triggered a response in the brain's premotor cortical, the area that controls the movement of facial muscles.
Advertisement

Inside the brain scanners, though, the subjects were not actually using these muscles.

To Scott, that indicates the brain is wired with "mirror circuits" that prime us to copy another's behaviour when we recognise their emotions.

The brain response was more pronounced for the sounds of laughter and triumph than the vocalisations of negative emotions, suggesting that the urge to copy is greatest when we hear another's delight or amusement.

That may explain how laughter is contagious, but the researchers wondered why should it be so.

One explanation stems from its evolutionary origins in rough-and-tumble play, where laughter sends out a clear message that the fighting is not for real.

"It might be important to have the whole group safely signal this so that a play fight does not turn ugly because someone 'didn't get the memo,'" New Scientist quoted Christian Hempelmann at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, as saying.

On the other hand, Scott believes that mirroring another's emotional state might ease communication and interaction.

Laughing at the same joke would help us to show affiliation with others, and this may be why it is especially contagious.

"Laughter is an incredibly binding thing," she said.

The study has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Source: ANI
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
What's New on Medindia
Test  Your Knowledge on Heart
Test Your Knowlege on Genes
Obesity in Teens Make Inroads into Early Atrial Fibrillation
View all
Recommended Reading
News Archive
Date
Category
Advertisement
News Category

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Celebrating Life: Positivity and Rejoicing 

Most Popular on Medindia

Turmeric Powder - Health Benefits, Uses & Side Effects Blood - Sugar Chart Accident and Trauma Care Sanatogen Pregnancy Confirmation Calculator Daily Calorie Requirements Indian Medical Journals Diaphragmatic Hernia Drug Interaction Checker Drug Side Effects Calculator
This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use
×

Why Does 'The Whole World Laugh With You'? Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests