Robert Provine, neuroscientist with pioneering work in laughter, yawning, hiccupping, and tears, dies.

by EMILY MAKOWSKI Neuroscientist Robert Provine, known for his groundbreaking research on common but mysterious human behavior such as laughter and yawning, died October 17 of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to The Washington Post. He was 76. Provine studied human social behaviors through innovative methods. In one 1993 study, his team observed people laughingContinue reading “Robert Provine, neuroscientist with pioneering work in laughter, yawning, hiccupping, and tears, dies.”

For this New Zealand parrot, ‘laughter’ is contagious

When people are feeling playful, they giggle and laugh, making others around them want to laugh and play too. Now, researchers have found that the particularly playful kea parrot from New Zealand has a ‘play call’ with a similarly powerful influence. When other kea hear that call, it puts them into a playful mood. TheContinue reading “For this New Zealand parrot, ‘laughter’ is contagious”

The mechanics of laughter

When the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed March 20 the International Day of Happiness, it was more than a frivolous feel-good holiday. The aim was to inspire 100 million to promote the universal goal of happiness and well-being around the world. And while the U.N. admirably frames the day as way to talkContinue reading “The mechanics of laughter”

Laughter signals social status

Perhaps the most memorable scene in the movie Goodfellas (1990) was not originally in the script but came out of actor Joe Pesci’s own experience as a young waiter who made the mistake of calling a mobster he served a wiseguy. “Funny how?” asks Pesci, as the mobster Tommy DeVito in the film, when HenryContinue reading “Laughter signals social status”

The employees shut inside coffins

South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and workers often report feeling stressed. So in order to make people appreciate life, some companies are making employees take part in their own pretend funerals. In a large room in a nondescript modern office block in Seoul, staff from a recruitment companyContinue reading “The employees shut inside coffins”

What’s the Secret to Longevity? Lessons from “Blue Zones” Worldwide

Five places in the world are now considered so-called “Blue Zones” – geographic areas where people are living much longer and more active lives. The first Blue Zone identified was Sardinia’s Nuoro province, which researchers Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain found to have the greatest number of male centenarians. Four other Blue Zones have sinceContinue reading “What’s the Secret to Longevity? Lessons from “Blue Zones” Worldwide”

Brain tumor causes uncontrollable laughter

They say laughter is the best medicine. But what if laughter is the disease? For a 6-year-old girl in Bolivia who suffered from uncontrollable and inappropriate bouts of giggles, laughter was a symptom of a serious brain problem. But doctors initially diagnosed the child with “misbehavior.” “She was considered spoiled, crazy — even devil-possessed,” Dr.Continue reading “Brain tumor causes uncontrollable laughter”