The science of laughter - and why it also has a dark side
The complex emotion of laughter has the power to override other emotions. The neurotransmitters (brain circuits) are controlling the facial muscles and vocal architecture, giving priority to positive emotions.
There are several brain pathways that contribute to laughter, like the regions of decision-making, behavior control, and our brains emotional circuitry.
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It is generally considered a positive emotion and is a vital social, emotional and cognitive function. It is a communal activity that encourages bonding, reduces any possible conflict, and eases stress and anxiety. Laughter can be classified in different types:
Various studies and research have shed some light on the underlying neural functions of the brain features that result in laughter being expressed by the body.
Pseudobulbar Affect Syndrome is a condition involving an unsettling exhibition of laughter, characterized by frequent, involuntary and uncontrollable outbursts of laughing and crying. This Syndrome is due to a disconnect between the frontal pathways of the brainstem, which control emotional drives, and is associated with several disorders like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and stroke.
Abnormal brain wiring gives rise to a number of specific conditions:
Laughter may have a dark side, but it is generally a positive emotion, as it enhances cardiovascular functions, fortifies our immune and endocrine systems.
Laughter therapy has amazing positive effects on our body and mind like an increase of serotonin levels, decreased stress and anxiety, improved respiration, and an enhancement in mood and resilience.
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Misophonia is a neurophysiological condition where people have an excessively negative reaction to specific sounds, like slurping, humming, tapping, typing, or texting.
The aversion to trigger sounds develops in childhood and tends to get worse over time.
The sounds are commonly related to the mouth, nasal sound, and hand sounds, and are more distressing if family members produce them.
Anger is the most common misophonic response, followed by anxiety or disgust.
In misophonia, people react to sounds that are not widely considered unpleasant, such as whispering or soft breathing.
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This area is also linked to emotion regulation, allowing us to recover faster from emotions.
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