Why is laughter self-sustaining?

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Offline nsbuk001

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Why is laughter self-sustaining?
« on: 01/06/2011 11:30:03 »
Neil S. Briscoe  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hello Again,

This one is for a future programme, but whilst I was listening to a stand-up comedian on Radio 4 Extra last night I did have time to think "I really should ask about the science of laughter".

So, first, I thought, why do we often cry tears when we laugh. I think  you've covered that before, and its believed that as certain parts of the brain get hot, the tears run in order to cool down the temperature. Am I correct?

But the thing that actually caused me to think of you was, why is it that once we start laughing, its much easier to cause us to laugh again.

I know this from several occasions in my own life, but also from the way that the comedy system works.

Quite often, you'll get a warm up act before you get the main stand up act, and quite clearly this leads to their knowledge that once you've warmed up the audience so they're laughing, they are much more likely to laugh again.

But I can cite at least two experiences from my own life where once something had made me laugh, it was easy to get me to laugh further.

One was at a wedding, when my younger brother started making me laugh, and then proceeded to keep up the act until I was forced to leave the room just to catch my breath and another was when, well, let's just say it involved a lot of snorting.

So why do we sometimes snort when we laugh, and why is that then funny in itself?

Finally, I suppose we should have a downside. I heard, on the news during the last week, that happier people die younger. My first reaction to that was "What bunk". Of course, the news didn't give too much extra detail.

So - debunk or not. Do happier people die younger? Seems those who preach the end of the Earth live to great age, so perhaps the study was correct.

That lot should fill a programme.

Neil ;-)

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 01/06/2011 11:30:03 by _system »


Offline Mr. Data

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Why is laughter self-sustaining?
« Reply #1 on: 02/07/2011 17:25:38 »
Laughter is sustaining because of a chemical imbalance within the brain. This may be due to ceratonin, or even dopamine. It may be due to many chemical differences between many neurons within the brain.