Laughter stimulates both sides of the brain to enhance learning. It eases muscle tension and psychological stress, which keeps the brain alert and allows people to retain more information. (Humor and Laughter: Health Benefits and Online Sources.)

The immediate involuntary action of laughter forms the most direct communication link possible between people, limbic brain to limbic brain. People who relish each other’s company laugh easily and often; those who distrust/dislike each other laugh little, if at all. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD, with Richard Boyatzis, and Annie Mckee. Primal Leadership. p 12. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.)

It takes a whole brain to appreciate a joke fully. The left hemisphere alone might not be able to make the connection between Siamese twins and the punch line in this joke: A young man returns from a blind date with Siamese twins. His friend inquires, “Did you have a good time?” The young man replied, “Well, yes and no.” (Wonder, Jacquelyn, and Priscilla Donovan. Whole Brain Thinking. 105. NY: Ballantine Books, 1984.)

Laughter initially raises blood pressure and pulse a bit and then they come down significantly-for as long as an hour. (O’Brien, Mary, MD. Successful Aging. p 30-31. CA: Biomed General. 2007.)

The brain triggers several things simultaneously during laughter: Visual – creation of specific facial gestures; Phonic – production of certain sounds; Body – changes in parts of the body including the arm, leg and trunk muscles. (Bartekian, Vatche. Laughter Can Cure What Ails You. Ask Men web site.)

Damage to the right frontal lobe of the cerebrum can decrease one’s ability to appreciate humor. This can, in turn, reduce one’s tendency to smile or laugh in response to a joke. (Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 93-94. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

Various portions of the brain work together to experience humor and laughter. Left hemisphere sets up the joke. Right hemisphere is involved in getting the joke. (Dossey, Larry, MD. Healing Beyond the Body. p 133-149. Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2001.)

The left cerebral hemisphere creates the feeling of amusement and laughs when prompted. The right hemisphere “gets” the joke. (Carter, Rita, Ed. Mapping the Mind. p 36-38. CA: University of California Press, 1998.)

Humor and laughter is processed via a complex pathway of brain activity. Three main components: sections of the frontal lobe near the forehead to “get” the humor; the supplementary motor area for smiling / laughing muscle movements; nucleus accumbens to elicit happiness felt after a funny experience. (Humor, Laughter, and the Brain. Brain Briefings, December 2001.)

Study using EEG topographical brain mapping of an individual hearing a joke: left hemisphere began to process the words. Then the frontal lobe center of emotionality was activated. 120 milliseconds later the right hemisphere began processing the pattern. A few milliseconds later the occipital lobe showed increased activity. Delta waves increased, the brain got the joke, and laughter erupted. (Dunn, Joseph R., PhD, Ed. New Discoveries in Psychoneuroimmunology. p 6-7. (interview with Dr. Lee S. Berk). Humor & Health Letter, Vol III. No 6, Nov/Dec 1994, MS: Dunn.)

EEG Studies of brain activity when subject laughed: Within four-tenths of a second of exposure to something potentially funny, an electrical wave moved through the cerebral cortex. If the wave took a negative charge, laughter resulted. (Brain, Marshall. How Laughter Works.)

Study: Laughter resulted when a small 2 cm by 2 cm area on the subject’s left superior frontal gyrus (part of the left frontal lobe) was stimulated. (What’s so Funny and Why: Laughter and the Brain.)

Describes step by step what happens in the brain to trigger laughter. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 550-560. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

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