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How Laughter Affects the Brain

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 @ 12:53 PM

speaker for companies on humor and wellnessWhen I was pregnant, I suffered from morning sickness. We were also renovating our kitchen, with the high hopes of being done before the baby.

A kitchen contractor walked into my living room one afternoon and saw me lying on the couch and asked, "Taking a bit of break?" I said, "Actually I am in my first tri-mester." "Really?" he replied, "What's your major?"

I laughed and instantly felt better. As a speaker on humor and wellness, I preach about humor all the time, yet I am continually surprised about the profound simplicity and benefit of laughter.

Especially when blindsided by stress, we need to lighten up. Laughter is the best, easiest cure to decrease stress. 

A little bit of levity also goes a long way to broaden your perspective. When you take yourself lightly you can see through stress instead of being stuck in it. You stop taking everything personally.

As a humorous speaker for company events, I spend a lot of time talking about humors effects on wellness.

The study of laughter is called gelotology, and those studies have shown that unlike other emotional responses, laughter is controlled by many parts of the brain.   According to a Derks Study, a group of scientists hooked up students to an EEG and found these specific brain reactions to laughter:

During the experiment, researchers observed the following specific activities:

  • The left side of the cortex (the layer of cells that covers the entire surface of the forebrain) analyzed the words and structure of the joke.
  • The brain's large frontal lobe, which is involved in social emotional responses, became very active.
  • The right hemisphere of the cortex carried out the intellectual analysis required to understand a joke.
  • Brainwave activity then spread to the sensory processing area of the occipital lobe (the area on the back of the head that contains the cells that process visual signals).
  • Stimulation of the motor sections evoked physical responses to the joke

When I am a speaker for companies on humor and wellness, I always hook up my seminar participants to an EEG at the front of the room and monitor their brainwaves. Just kidding, although it sounds fun! I'll leave that to the scientists.

We all know laughter affects the brain, and now we know how.

If you are looking for a humorous speaker for company events, check out our Motivational Speeches.

Tags: wellness, speaker for companies on humor and wellness, humorous speaker for company events

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