Laughter is a connecting force between all people from various cultures and experiences. Even from infancy, laughter has been a way to respond to different stimuli. While all of us have experienced laughter, many of us don’t understand the science behind it. This MRI study reveals everything about laughter and how our brain experiences it.
Why We Respond With Laughter
Laughter is an important aspect of our social interactions with others. This reaction can be experienced from as young as six-week-old babies and is an important part of building social bonds. Laughter can be experienced with close friends, with a comedian, or in response to being tickled, but they all serve an important role in maintaining our brain’s health.
Studying How Laughter Really Works
An MRI study that focused on analyzing people’s genuine laughter in response to various sounds showed activation in regions involved with the person’s emotional and mental state. This study showed that the brain detects the different reasons laughter is stimulated.
MRI’s have shown that four regions of the brain are activated by laughter, Lateral hypothalamus, Parietal operculum, Amygdala, and Right cerebellum. Through various MRI studies involving the brain's response to laughter, laughter has proven to beneficial to the brain’s health and the overall satisfaction of an individual.
Is Being Tickled Actually Funny?
The most common response to being tickled is laughter, but MRI’s show that being tickled isn’t actually funny. In another MRI study involving responses to three types of laughter, researchers analyzed humorous and joyful laughter, mean-spirited, mocking laughter and tickling-induced laughter. The study showed that all three types of laughter, including tickling, activates the part of the brain that controls facial movements and emotional reactions.
When it the study analyzed how the brain responded to being tickled, the “fight or flight” response was triggered in the brain and displayed submission to being tickled. That explains why if you tried to tickle yourself, you wouldn’t laugh because your body understands there is nothing funny.
MRI’s have aided researchers in learning more about the body’s response to laughter and how it can actually benefit the brain’s health. We utilize MRI technology at Clovis Open MRI and hope to make you smile after you leave our office!