These different kinds of laughter make brain respond in different manner, suggest researchers at the University of Tuebingen, Germany. A laugh may signal mockery, humour, joy or simply be a response to tickling, but different kind of laughter conveys a wealth of auditory and social information.
Based on a primordial reflex to tickling, laughter in animals is a form of social bonding. However, human laughter has come a long way from these playful roots. Many people laugh when they're tickled and the ‘social laughter' in humans can be used to communicate happiness, taunts or other conscious messages.
Researchers observed participants' neural responses as they listened to three kinds of laughter: joy, taunt and tickling. They found that specific cerebral connectivity patterns during perception of these different types of laughter presumably reflect modulation of attentional mechanisms and processing resources.
It was found that brain regions sensitive to processing more complex social information got activated when subjects heard joyous or taunting laughter, but the brain activity wasn’t the same when they heard 'tickling laughter'.
There have been researches that have examined how speech can influence these patterns; however, this is among the first few studies to examine non-verbal vocal cues like laughter.
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