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Watch: Here’s What Happens to Your Brain When You Laugh

FIONA MACDONALD
10 SEP 2015

There's nothing better than laughing until you're out of breath and have tears streaming down your face. But when you think about it, laughter is actually kind of a bizarre behaviour. So why do we do it, and what makes our bodies have such an intense reaction to something funny? Thankfully, the team over at Business Insider have broken down the science of laughter for us in the video above.

 

How do our brains know when something is funny? As science reporter Tanya Lewis explains, it's thanks to the frontal lobe of our brain, which is responsible for our emotional responses. So while the left side is responsible for interpreting the words and structure of a joke, the right side determines whether that joke is funny or not.

Research has also shown that the limbic system at the centre of the brain - which contains the amygdala and hippocampus and processes our most basic emotions, such as hunger and fear - is also triggered when we see or hear something funny. This activity eventually stimulates the motor region of the brain to become active, and that's what produces the physical reaction of laughing and the vocal expulsion of sound.

On average, humans have this laughter reaction around 17 times a day, and as far as we know, we're one of the only species on the planet that laughs. Some primates do show signs of laughter when they're tickled, but scientists aren't quite sure if this is the same as human laughter.

The best part about all of this is that laughter is actually good for you. As the video above explains, researchers at the University of Maryland in the US have linked laughter to the healthy function of blood vessels - something that can lower your chance of a heart attack. And laughter also boosts heart rate and the production of certain antibodies, which strengthens our immune system.

Watch the video above to find out more about the fascinating biology of laughter, including why it's so contagious. And then watch Key and Peele parody Cosmos, because if nothing else, the science shows that we could all use some more lols.