talks laughter with Robert Provine
Quick! Laugh out loud! Can't do it? We thought so. And that,
according to laughter expert Dr. Robert
Provine, shows that laughter is an ancient human reflex
beyond our conscious control.
In "Laughing Matters" Provine shows Alan Alda that all forms
of laughter, whether giggle or guffaw, follow the same physiological
pattern. The special sound we call laughter is little more
than a chopped up exhalation. But, according to Provine, the
ability to chop up an outward breath might be what makes humans
computer shows the uniform peaks and valleys of human
the chimpanzee, our closest relative, displays anything like
human laughter. But, unable to chop up each breath, chimp
laughter comes out more like "aha-aha-aha" than "ha-ha-ha."
Provine thinks humans probably attained neurological control
over their exhalations only after we stood up on two legs.
Primitive chimp-like laughter evolved into the more complicated
cackles, chortles and chuckles we know today. Furthermore,
Provine hypothesizes laughter might have been the rudimentary
form of communication that eventually blossomed into human
why do modern humans still laugh? Provine hypothesizes laughter
is the oil in the social machine, a lubricant in everyday
more on this topic, see the web feature:
Who Laughs Less"