Laughter could be a social lubricant that bonds people together and helps overcome stress. Humour is a serious business and has remarkable neurological benefits. When Saturday Review editor, Norman Cousins’ severe disease worsened, he locked himself in a very chamber, took antioxidant, and watched Marx Brother’s films and episodes of the photographic camera. He reported that ten minutes of belly laughs calmed the pain for 2 hours. Within some weeks he was arrested. Robert Provine’s book, Laughter:
A Scientific Investigation puts on paper his 30 years of fieldwork (but his wife doesn’t appreciate his humour). Neurological/emotional entanglement for spontaneous laughter could be a phenomenon. Provine’s pursuit was to investigate the frequency, amplitude, and length of every sample in his recorded bag of laughs. He learned that babies laugh 300 times daily while adults only laugh 20 times and outbreaks of laughter peak at age 5. He studied laugh patterns that exposed genetic linkage.
Humour could be a contagious social phenomenon. People laugh 30 times more together than when alone. A fun epidemic swept through Africa within the early 1960s when three girls in East Africa started giggling. Soon the giggles rippled to 95 students and lasted for hours. The laughter started again and went for three straight months. It absolutely was so disruptive that the college closed, reopened, and shut again. The uncontrollable laughter reinfected 57 students. It was now not a laughing matter. In another ten days, 217 children in Nshamba, Tanzania and 48 more in Bukoba were affected. The epidemic closed 14 schools, and about 1,000 people were changed before quarantines were initiated. It took one and a half years for the laughter to subside.
For over half a century, people have wondered what caused this epidemic. Well, I do not think I started it, but, then again, apparently when these three girls started laughing, I used to be in East Africa. I had some beautiful experiences in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania (Tanganyika and Zanzibar at the time). Zanzibar was overthrown fortnight after I left. (I had nothing to try and do thereupon either.) I was the youngest in our small group of white men on my first around-the-world venture. It was a thrill to satisfy nationals from many alternative tribes and spend time with them up close and private.
One night, this delightful family insisted that we sleep in their hut rather than pitching our tent outside their home as planned. There I used to be, a young man who knew little or no Swahili but longed to speak with these children. The presence of this white boy sleeping in their hut was a drama indelibly etched in their minds; and, it struck their crazy bone. As I reclined on my cot looking up at the celebs through the thatch roof and to the youngsters through the stick wall, my thoughts turned to how music and laughter transcend all languages. “Oh”, I thought, “and everyone recognizes the sounds of animals.” So, I started impersonating a lion. Because the decibels of the lion’s roar accelerated, so did the laughter of the ladies. Every time I roared, the ladies echoed with a cry of laughter that continued into the night and maybe into the epidemic that swept that area of Africa.
I didn’t think it was that funny, but the ladies did. Males and females respond differently to the same humour. Provine’s wife still doesn’t think his joke is funny, while others may laugh uncontrollably. A study at Stanford reveals that girls process humour differently within the brain than men. Regions of the female brain that process language and dealing memory become active when reckoning humorously.
Men, on the opposite hand, enjoy slapstick comedy and infrequently see humour where women don’t. My wife will testify to it. This male/ female difference was verified when researchers ran MRI scans of 10 men and girls as they viewed cartoons. This Stanford study was published within the neuroscience journal, Neuron. Glycomics is the science of sugars. Sprinkle Smart Sugars on a correct dose of humour, and you’ve got the recipe for a dessert that may change your life. In another Smart Sugars Lesson, I will be able to discuss the various characters of humour and the way best to use humour for healing. We may put a full new aspiring to the word gly COMICS.