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    Corbis.com

    Gelotology

    This is the term that describes the physiological study of laughter. Researchers have found out that the production of laughter is involved with various parts of the brain. However they still could not produce a definite answer on the relationship between laughter and the brain.


    The following are the procedures to an experiment to show the pattern of brainwave activity in subjects responding to humorous material:

    1. Subjects were hooked up to an electroencephalograph (EEG) and their brain activity was measured when they laughed.

    2. The brain produced a regular electrical pattern. Within four-tenths of a second of exposure to something potentially funny, an electrical wave moved through the cerebral cortex, the largest part of the brain.


    3. If the wave took a negative charge, laughter resulted. If it maintained a positive charge, no response was given.

    4. Mapping of the brain is done to determine the function of different brain areas and to make sure that brain tissue that will be removed does not have an important function.



    During the experiment, researchers observed the following specific activities:

  • 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 the joke.


    Conclusion

    From the experiment the scientists have conducted, they have deduced that the experiment is 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. In other words damage to any of these regions can impair one's sense of humour and response to humour.

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