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Robert R. Provine is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County. The author of more than 50 research papers concerning developmental neuroscience and the neural mechanisms of behavior, Provine has studied more than 30 species, both in the lab and in the field. Most recently, Provine has been studying the instinctive, contagious acts of yawning and laughing to gain insights into the neural mechanisms of human social behavior.

Provine's 10-year quest to understand laughter has allowed him to escape from his windowless neurophysiology laboratory and seek laughter in all its contexts--bars, zoos, comedy clubs, acting classes, neurology clinics, city sidewalks, operas, TV laugh tracks, Pentecostal church services, and tickle wars. The study of laughter requires a catch-as-catch-can interdisciplinary approach and entails grappling with some of science's knottiest and most important problems--the interrelationship of nature and nurture and the evolution of speech, language, and social behavior.

Provine presents the results of his wide-ranging 10 year study of laughter in the recently published book LAUGHTER: A SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION (Viking, 2000).


A paper on laughter by Robert Provine, published in American Scientist.

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