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Physiology Of Laughter Essay

1784 words - 8 pages

Laughter is part of everyday life for every human. Although we do it daily, most people do not know how it works, nor how it helps us with our health. Something that we do all the time is something that we do not even think about. We, as humans, take laughter for granted. It might come easy to us, but laughing is actually very complex. It also helps us physically, mentally, and socially. Although, many people do not agree on humor, we can all agree on one thing: laughter is important.
Laughter is unique movements of the face and body that are expressed due to amusement and sometimes contempt or derision. (Websters) But do we not need more than that? Do we not deserve to know more? Of course. Although laughter is something that we don’t ever really think about doing, it still requires a lot of our brain, lungs, and muscles. Laughing’s medical definition is a psycho-physiological reflex, a successive, rhythmic, spasmodic expiration with open glottis and vibration of the vocal chords often accompanied by a baring of teeth and facial grimaces. (2011, Everwell). It simply means that no matter what happens, we can’t control laughter. It’s an involuntary impulse. In fact, it’s a negatively charged electrical impulse traveling through the cerebral cortex. However, I want to know more. What muscles produce the huge smile? What creates the wonderful sound of laughter?
Laughter is often involuntary. In fact, it is very difficult to fake it because it requires so many muscles. The main two muscles used in laughing are the zygomaticus major and minor anchor located at the cheekbones and go down towards the jaw. They both pull the face upward and the zygomaticus major also makes sure to pull the top lip upward and outward. Whenever we laugh, we also produce a sound. Whether it be a chuckle or a whole hearty laugh, we are still using the same methods as we do whenever we cough or speak. We use the lungs and the larynx, also known as a voice box, to make the sound of laughter. We don’t ever realize it, but whenever we breathe, air from our lungs passes through the open vocal cords in the larynx. Whenever the voice box is closed, air cannot travel. However, when the larynx is just barely open, it produces sound. When we hear the sweet music of laughter, is it because we breathed out while our vocal cords were not open and with the help of our respiratory muscles, we produce the steady sound of laughter. But, what goes on in the brain whenever we laugh?
Of course, we all know that the brain is one of our major organs and our brains are always in use, but what goes on in the brain when we laugh? The study of laughter and the affects it has on the body is called gelotology. Although laughter may come easy and natural to us, our body has to go through a rather complex process. We don’t know much, but researchers have done studies that have shown that laughter is caused by many parts of the brain. These researchers have done many tests by hooking...

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