Sunday, January 15, 2006
The evolutionary value of laughter
Maggie Witlin at the beta of SEED magazine (the one swallowing up science bloggers) has an excellent article on the practical side of humor . Laughing probably comes in two distinct flavors. "Emotional" laughter appears to be very ancient-- preceeding even language-- because apes will also make a distinct pant-grunt when they tickle each other. This ancient form might be a way of communicating safety or group cohesion. The other types of laughter, called "conscious laughter"-- anything from nervous laughing to Dr. Evil's cackle--involve different areas of the brain and might have a completely different evolutionary function.