The physiological study of laughter has its own name — gelotology. And we know that certain parts of the brain are responsible for certain human functions.
For example, emotional responses are the function of the brain’s largest region, the frontal lobe. But researchers have learned that the production of laughter is involved with various regions of the brain.
While the relationship between laughter and the brain is not fully understood, researchers are making some progress.
For example, Derks traced the pattern of brainwave activity in subjects responding to humorous material.
Subjects were hooked up to an electroencephalograph (EEG) and their brain activity was measured when they laughed.
In each case, the brain produced a regular electrical pattern. Within four-tenths of a second of exposure to something potentially funny, an electrical wave moved through the cerebral cortex, the largest part of the brain.
If the wave took a negative charge, laughter resulted. If it maintained a positive charge, no response was given, researchers said.