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?

Why Laughter is Good Medicine

April 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Feeling Positive

laughteryoga1501Tired of all the gloom and doom? Try getting a good laugh.

Back in 1995, Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India, created a club whose members gather every day to laugh. He called it Laughter Yoga. Sessions begin with participants clapping rhythmically and chanting “Ho-ho, ha-ha-ha. This faked laughter soon becomes real laughter.

Laughter Yoga combines yoga deep breathing and simulated laughter exercises. Does fake laughter have the same benefits as real laughter? The doctor says even if you pretend laugh, the same set of happy chemicals (endorphins) are released in your brain. Today there are over 5,000 laughter clubs in more than 50 countries.

Laughter brings important health benefits. Pent up negative emotions like anger, sadness and frustration are released in a healthy way, and humor can help us view stressful events as challenges rather than threats. As Bill Cosby has said, if you can laugh at it, you can survive it.

Laughter may even help to prevent heart disease, according to a study at the University of Maryland. When you laugh you improve the function of the innermost lining of your blood vessels, and this is important to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In the study, viewing laughter-provoking clips from movies was found to relax blood vessels in 19 of the 20 study volunteers, and increase blood flow an average of 22 percent. While film clips that caused stress were found to narrow blood vessels in 14 of 20 volunteers, and decrease blood flow by an average of 34 percent.
Other studies by Dr. Lee Berk of California’s Loma Linda University School of Medicine show that laughter may also strengthen our immune system and decrease our stress hormones.

There are lots of easy ways to get more laughter into your life:

  • Watch funny movies or TV shows.
  • Read funny books.
  • Hang out with happy, upbeat people.
  • Use brainwave training to instantly bust your stress