on the Brain
physiological study of laughter has its own name -- gelotology.
I guess many of you know that certain parts of the brain are
responsible for certain human
functions. For example, emotional responses are the function of
the brain's largest region, the frontal lobe. But researchers
have learned that the production of laughter is involved with
various regions of the brain.
example, Derks traced the pattern of brainwave activity in
subjects responding to humorous things. Subjects were hooked up
to an electroencephalograph
(EEG) and their brain activity was measured when they laughed.
Within 4/10 of a second of exposure to something funny, an
electrical wave moved regularly through the cerebral cortex, the
largest part of the brain. If the wave took a negative
laughter resulted. If it maintained a positive charge, no
response was given, researchers said.
the experiment, researchers observed the following specific
The left side of the cortex (the layer of cells that covers the
entire surface of the forebrain) analyzed the words and
structure of the joke.
The brain's large frontal lobe, which is involved in social
emotional responses, became very active.
The right hemisphere of the cortex carried out the intellectual
analysis required to
"get" the joke.
Brainwave activity then spread to the sensory processing area of
the occipital lobe (the area on the back of the head that
contains the cells that process visual signals).
Stimulation of the motor sections evoked physical responses to
different from what happens with emotional responses. Emotional
responses appear to be confined to specific areas of the brain,
while laughter seems to
be produced via a circuit that runs through many regions of the
brain. (This means that damage to any of these regions can
impair one's sense of humor and response to humor......)