Do Animals Laugh? (Video)

By David Bois, Tonic

Now then everybody, please settle down, this is serious. Fun time is over, we have rats to tickle.

Laughter, it seems, is a topic of scientific inquiry that is ripe to be taken very seriously. As explained in an article at PhysOrg, the act of laughter is universal and sounds pretty much the same across all of humanity, with no discernible difference in how it sounds to the ear as a result of differences in language or culture. And not only is laughter among the very first forms of communication that every single human being learns, laughter is not limited to people. Other primates are known to laugh. Additionally, and perhaps surprisingly, laughter is also demonstrated in dogs and rats.

The common denominator in situations that cause someone to have a ha-ha moment seems to be interaction with others. According to scientists who investigate the causes and the effects of laughing, the primary basis for these strange, involuntary respiratory convulsions that we all do is a reaction to an event that we perceive and respond to as an experience shared with others. Laughing is not dependent on any one specific sense (as PhysOrg points out, “deaf people laugh without hearing, and people on cell phones laugh without seeing”), but arises from our interactions.

“It’s joy, it’s positive engagement with life.áIt’s deeply social,” according to Bowling Green University psychologist Jaak Panksepp. Among Panksepp’s research activities is tickling his lab rats. It turns out that rats laugh in response to being tickled, and they just can’t seem to get enough of it. What we’re able to learn from what happens in the brains of rats during and after a good laugh provides insights into the results and benefits that we derive from laughter. These include biochemical responses that appear to serve as natural anti-depressants and anxiety reducers.

However, when it comes time to apply for a grant to support laughter research, scientists are extra careful to make sure that they keep the “fun” out of funding. Northwestern University’s Jeffrey Burgdorf uses the term ‘positive emotional response’ in place of the word laughter in research study proposals to help ensure that he and his work are taken seriously.

Related:
Do Animals Have Emotions?
8 Health Benefits of Laughter
Scientists Find Dogs Don’t Feel Guilt? Ha!
Lose Weight with Sex and Laughter

90 comments

Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

Work for the shared joy of us and animals

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Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago

if they watch humans, they must :-)

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Eric Luu
Eric Luu4 years ago

All animals have emotions.

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Abbe A.
Azaima A4 years ago

Ok, he's had his fun. Can he set the animal free?

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Sandi C.
Sandi C4 years ago

of course they do.

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Milkah Savage
Past Member 5 years ago

Oh my gosh , dogs do laugh !! My bully laughs so hard sometimes he snorts..It;s the cutest thing ever :*)

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Valentina R.
Valentina R5 years ago

Of course they do. Just look at that awesome photo. My dog smiles as well.

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Melinda K.
Past Member 5 years ago

Even more astounding is how much more love they have and give...yet they are thought of as lower than us....not to me!

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Miss N.
Past Member 5 years ago

thank you

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Sabrina C.
Sabrina Cordon5 years ago

This is adorable :)

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