Why Do We Laugh

you know it's like super funny laughter laughter is a physiological response that involves at least 15 facial muscles the respiratory system the brains limbic system and if the joke is really really good even your tear ducts but laughter doesn't always indicate happy times it can actually be a sign that something is seriously wrong with your brain gelastic seizures or uncontrollable and random laughter or crying can indicate the presence of brain tumors or other conditions like pseudobulbar affect a neurological condition that can affect stroke and brain trauma survivors and MS patients these conditions are sometimes called emotional incontinence because the sufferer can't control the outbursts which often have no root - now they're feeling and how we feel especially in groups seems to be what laughing is all about some laugh researchers and yes they are things known as gel atala gists think that much of our laughter is rooted in strengthening social bonds we're much more likely to laugh in a group than we are alone and we tend to laugh more easily around friends and family that shared experience brings us closer makes us feel part of the group we also laugh to express relief or to ease our nerves in stressful moments researchers theorize that there are a few specific reasons for laughing first there's the incongruity theory which maintains it's the element of surprise that triggers laughter whether it's an unexpected punchline or your friend tripping over a throw rug so like say you're watching people walk through a room all day your brain registers this as predictable and boring behavior then your friend walks in trips on a rug and drops a box of ping pong balls once you're sure that your friend hasn't safe falling on a bag of rusty knives you'll find the fall hilarious because it was sudden and unexpected and incongruous to the string of people you'd seen safely walking by and because ping pong balls babies and little kids go for this kind of laughter a lot they think really simple unexpected things like my eye my face is here it's there that for five consecutive hours it's still funny you're like using a banana as a telephone now if you're the one who tripped on the throw rug you're much more likely to laugh and surprised if you see your friend laughing with you this goes back to that shared laughter as social bond thing you're probably feeling pretty embarrassed intense but are also relieved that you aren't hurt that's where the relief theory comes in laughing is like a mental mini-break your brain is constantly working taking in all sorts of information and ordering around the body sometimes it just needs a happy surprise this is particularly handy in stressful moments the whole Hollywood wisecrack in the middle of a suspenseful scene phenomenon is predicated on this idea when han Solo is in mortal danger he cracks a joke to lighten the mood he needs it chewy deeds it the audience at the edge of their seats need it humor helps us cope with stressful situations it sort of recharges our brains to face the task at hand scientists call this releasing cognitive energy the rest of us call it comic relief but now back to you tripping on that throw rug if everyone in the room is laughing at you and none of them are your friends they may be proving the superiority Theory of laughter it means that they're laughing at your misfortune and probably means that the kind of a bunch of jerk faces superiority laughter still promotes bonding and in us-versus-them kind of way doesn't show much goodwill though teenagers make fun of their parents and you know each other and pretty much everyone and so do lots of adults as well but our teen years are usually awkward and confusing and superiority laughter may help ease some of that pain so simply put we laugh hardest at what we know best and at what stresses us out the most and maybe that's why it's great for you both physically and emotionally it reduces the release of stress hormones that jac those fight-or-flight feelings it lowers blood pressure and oxygenates your blood flow it even increases your t-cell levels that help your immune response and B cells that produce antibodies also laughing a hundred times is estimated to burn as many calories as a 15-minute bike ride so you see laughter is not the best medicine but it's not a bad medicine either thank you for watching this episode of scishow if you have any questions comments or ideas for us we're on Facebook or Twitter or of course down in the comments below and if you want to keep getting smarter with us here at scishow you can go to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe

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