Laughter drives the functioning of the areas that control motor, emotional, cognitive and social processing.
Laughing a laugh may seem common and unimportant on a day-to-day basis, but the reality is that laughter, in response to a funny situation, requires a lot of work. Specifically, this activity promotes the functioning of the areas that control motor, emotional, cognitive and social processing.
In fact, people begin to laugh in childhood, which helps build upper body muscles and strength.
This discovery has led to research on the power of laughter to improve physical and mental well-being, according to Science Alert. Laughter, according to experts, is not based on breathing, but on a complex combination of facial muscles that involve movement of the eyes, head or shoulders.
In this way, laughter, whether done or observed, activates multiple regions of the brain : the motor cortex, which controls muscles; the frontal lobe, which helps to understand the context; and the limbic system, which modulates positive emotions.
Engaging all of these circuits strengthens neural connections and helps a healthy brain coordinate its activity. In addition, laughter can improve mood and reduce the physical and emotional response to stress.
For example, laughing can help control brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in a similar way to what antidepressants do. By minimizing the brain’s responses to threats, it limits the release of neurotransmitters and hormones like cortisol that can wear down the cardiovascular, metabolic, and immune systems over time.
Laughter is like an antidote to stress , weakening these systems and increasing vulnerability to disease.
However, a good sense of humor and the laughter that follows depends largely on social intelligence and memory, since memory often arises from recognizing the incongruities or absurdities of a situation.
Many cognitive and social skills work together to help monitor when and why laughter occurs during conversations. The truth is that it is not even necessary to hear a laugh to be able to laugh, for example, deaf people accentuate their signed sentences with laughter, like emoticons in written text.
Linguist Don Nilsen notes that chuckles and laughter rarely occur in solitude, supporting his strong social role. From an early age, babies’ laughter is an outward sign of complacency that helps to strengthen ties with caregivers. Years later, it is an outward sign of sharing an appreciation for the situation .
There are experts who point out that practicing a little laugh every day can improve social skills since, when someone laughs, they share their feelings with others and learn the risk that their answer can be accepted or, on the contrary, ignored .
Positive psychology researchers, who study how people can prosper in their lives, have found that laughter produces positive emotions that lead to this kind of flourishing.
These feelings create resilience and increase creative thinking, thus increasing subjective well-being and satisfaction with life. Experts found that these positive emotions correlate with appreciation of the meaning of life and help adults to have a benign view of the difficulties they have faced throughout their lives.
A growing number of therapists advocate the use of humor and laughter to help clients build trust and improve work environments . In fact, different studies revealed that levels of well-being increased after laughter interventions.