THE PHYSIOLOGY OF LAUGHTER
Laughter is a physiological response to humor.
An EEG recording of the brain during laughter demonstrates a different pattern from what happens with simple emotional responses.
Emotional responses appear to be localized to specific areas of the brain, while laughter produced a circuit that runs through many regions of the brain.
*Circuit of The Brain on Laughter
- 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.
LAUGHTER IS A WHOLE BRAIN RESPONSE.
Laughing can also be a total body workout. Blood pressure is lowered. There is an increase in vascular blood flow and in oxygenation. Laughter also gives your diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles a workout. Researchers estimate that ‘laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike’.
Laughter can bring balance to all the components of the immune system, which helps fight off dis-eases.
- Laughter provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones. These hormones, when activated, inhibit our immune system; increase the number of blood platelets (causing obstructions in arteries); and raise blood pressure.
- Laughter mobilizes the immune system by increasing natural killer cells that destroy tumors and viruses. [Gamma-interferon (a disease-fighting protein), T-cells, which are a major part of the immune response, and B-cells, which make disease-destroying antibodies]
- Laughter can lead to hiccupping and coughing, which clears the respiratory tract and increases the concentration of salivary immunoglobulin A.
LAUGHTER IS A WHOLE BODY RESPONSE.
Replace YOUR ‘power nap’ with a laughter break.