Sunday, September 18, 2011

Laughter as pain (and creativity?) management

NYT reports Dr. Dunbar and his colleagues at Oxford, England, have determined that laughter is a form of pain management:

The results, when analyzed, showed that laughing increased pain resistance, whereas simple good feeling in a group setting did not. Pain resistance is used as an indicator of endorphin levels because their presence in the brain is difficult to test; the molecules would not appear in blood samples because they are among the brain chemicals that are prevented from entering circulating blood by the so-called blood brain barrier.

Being originally from the Soviet Union, I can attest that political jokes did help ease the pain of absurd ideological rules and regulations.

— Является ли коммунизм наукой?
— Нет. Если бы он был наукой, его бы сначала попробовали на собаках.

-- Is the theory of Communism scientific?
-- No. If it were scientific they would test it on animals first.

On a more serious note, laughter might also help in solving difficult problems. Studies show that fear and frustration, two psychological conditions often encountered when we face a tough challenge, cause physical pain. If laughter is a natural pain killer, then an occasional joke can reduce stress and improve group creativity.

tags: creativity, psychology, problem, science, brain, biology

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