No Joke. Animals Laugh Too.

May 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Feeling Positive

Do animals laugh?

Do animals laugh?

Life can be funny, right? Want to get a good laugh? There’s now evidence that life can be equally funny for non-human animals.

Studies by various animal behaviorists suggest that monkeys, dogs, cats, and even rats love a good laugh.

The neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the brain, and ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals eons before we humans came along with our ha-ha-has and verbal repartee, says Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist at Bowling Green State University.

When chimps play and chase each other they pant in a manner that is strikingly similar to human laughter. Dogs have a similar response, and cats have their own version.

Rats chirp while they play in a way that resembles human giggles. Panksepp found in a previous study that when rats are playfully tickled, they chirp and bond socially with their human tickler. And they seem to like it, seeking to be tickled more. And apparently joyful rats also preferred to hang out with other chirpers.

Laughter in humans starts young, another clue that it’s a deep-seated brain function. Young children laugh and shriek abundantly in the midst of their other rough-and-tumble activities, Panksepp notes.

Meanwhile, there’s the question of what’s so darn funny in the animal world. Science has traditionally deemed animals incapable of joy. Panksepp’s response: Although some still regard laughter as a uniquely human trait, apparently the joke’s on them.

What do YOU think about this? Has your dog, cat. rat or elephant ever laughted?