Laughter is the Best Medicine

What Makes Someone Laugh? The SCIENCE Of Humor

Have you ever laughed at a joke you thought
was hilarious, only to turn around and find that your friends were completely unamused? Humor may seem like a pretty straightforward
thing. You either find something funny, or you don’t,
but there’s a lot more to it than that when it comes to humor. From how the mind reads a joke to your brain
actually being altered, humor can affect you in some interesting ways. Everyone has a unique sense of humor, but
what exactly determines the words, behaviours, or actions that each individual finds funny? Types of Humor According to psychological researcher, Rod
Martin, different types of humor can be used for specific purposes, and everyone has their
own humor style. He identified four main types of humor –
Affiliative, which is used to enhance relationships with others, Self-enhancing, which is used
to used to make yourself feel better in situations, Aggressive, which is directed at others and
includes sarcasm and teasing, and lastly, Self-defeating humor, which is used to make
others laugh at the expense putting yourself down. In the world of comedy, the source of humor,
method of delivery, and the context in which it is delivered can bring about many different
genres, such as deadpan, slapstick, satire, or witty comedy. What determines our sense of humor? As you can guess, the reason everyone has
a unique sense of humor is because it is based on our experiences in life. More specifically, the social interactions
and events that we were exposed to in our childhood play a huge role in what we find
funny as we get older. It is thought that a person’s sense of humor
correlates pretty strongly with one’s creativity, imagination, emotions, intelligence, and perspective. The thing scientists love about humor is that
it’s very complex and therefore fascinating to study. Not only is comedy fun to work with, but there’s
usually an instant response in the brain, so researchers can observe it in real-time. One of the most interesting things about humor
is the way we humans process it. It’s more complex than it appears, since
different parts of the brain work to process different comedic stimuli. Let’s take jokes for example. Neuroscientists in Dartmouth invited people
to watch Seinfeld and The Simpsons while connected to a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
machine, or fMRI, which detects brain activity through blood flow. As each joke came up, the brain went through
2 stages – Detection and Appreciation. Detection involves the left inferior frontal
and posterior temporal cortices, which are the areas of the brain that act like a library. When you see a slapstick routine or hear a
funny line, it flips through your knowledge bank to see if the set up is familiar. Then, if the comedians have done their job
right, the brain moves on to appreciation, where the chemical dopamine is released, and
causes you to feel pleasure and enjoyment. In 2017, Prof. Irving Biederman and his student
Ori Amir at the University of Southern California published a major study about the links between
humor and neuroscience. Through their research, they found that brain
function can actually be changed through creating humor. The study involved 2 groups of funny people:
Professional comedians with improvisational skills and Amateurs just trying their hand
at comedy. Amir and Biederman hooked the participants
up to fMRI machines and then showed them cartoons from the New Yorker. The participants were then asked to suggest
two captions – one that was funny, and one that was just a regular comment. As mentioned before, two parts of the brain
were activated as the groups came up with their responses. In this case, it was the Medial Prefrontal
Cortex, responsible for the organization and top-down control, and the Temporal Lobe, an
area responsible for the comprehension of speech and visual cognition. The two areas work in tandem with each other,
with the temporal lobe acting as a free thinker, and the prefrontal cortex keeping it in check. However, while amateur subjects relied on
their prefrontal cortex, the professionals retrieved their responses from the more freewheeling
temporal lobe. As Amir put it, “The more experience you
have doing comedy, the less you need to engage in the top-down control and the more you rely
on your spontaneous associations.” These findings were pretty interesting because
it shows how brain functions can change with experience. Believe it or not, humor was actually seen
negatively by psychologists in the past, as they understood it to be more of a defense
mechanism used to demean others, and something that should be avoided. While this can be true in certain scenarios,
we now understand that humor has many functions such as strengthening social relationships,
and can even benefit your health! Studies in the field of positive psychology
has found that laughter can relax muscles, boost the immune system, lower stress hormones,
and even lower the risk of heart disease. Having a great sense of humor can improve
your relationships, physical health, and in many cases, reduce stress and anxiety and
provide you with a positive outlook on life. So keep your heart light and have a laugh
every so often – because it really is the best medicine.

8 thoughts on “What Makes Someone Laugh? The SCIENCE Of Humor

  1. I wasn't originally going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind. I'd tell you a chemistry joke but I know I wouldn't get a reaction. How about any jokes on sodium? Na

  2. I crack up (rolling to laughter)at hilariously narcissistic South Koreans. mean, who would believe me other than the "tabloid online articles about child abuse/crime" that there exists South Korean doctor! past plastic surgeon! and worked under the world bank and the prime minister! Parents who are disgustingly narcissistic enough to give their oldest daughter a stinkin mattress and refuse to buy a new one when there are even many different spring mattresses costing about 40USD or less in South Korea😂🤣🤮🙄

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