Reviewed by Michael Smith on January 08, 2016

Sources

Pixeldust Studios<br>Neuroscience for Kids: "The Science of Laughter."; Baron, R. Proceedings B, 2012.; OZY: "When Laughter Is Bad for You."; Center for Nonverbal Studies: "Laugh."; Bennett, M. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, June 6, 2009.; Mayo Clinic: "Stress Relief From Laughter? It's No Joke."; Weekly World News: "Movie Was Such a Scream - Doctor Laughs Himself to Death!"; The British Psychological Society: "Laughter – the ordinary and the extraordinary."; Warren, J. Journal of Neuroscience, Dec. 12, 2006.; News release, Wellcome Trust.; Sound Effects: freeSFX.

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Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] [LAUGHING] AMY GARBER: Ah, we all love a good laugh. I know I do, or I would've own every Garfield book ever published. That cat is lazy with a capital L. But laughing doesn't just make us feel good. It's good for you.

To really see what laughter does, let's check it out in slow motion. When the brain processes something that's funny, it signals for the body to react with the muscles in our face.

Watch this. The eyes squint. The mouth opens. Head tilts back. And then out comes that unmistakable sound of joy. [SLOW MOTION LAUGHING]

Actually, in slow-mo, it sounds kind of scary. One reason laughing is fun is because the muscle movement that occurs causes an increased flow of endorphins, the chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. [SLOW MOTION LAUGHING]

And when you cackle, like this guy, you get other health benefits, too. Laughter increases blood pressure and heart rate, so it burns calories. And bonus time-- it can even pump up your immune system. But beware-- laughter has its dangers.

It stops you from inhaling oxygen and puts pressure on your thorax, which can theoretically lead to cardiac arrest.

But don't let that stop you from having a good laugh. Just thinking of Garfield eating lasagna does it for me. [LAUGHS] Yum, yum, yum. Ah, that cat. [MUSIC PLAYING]