Cobalt Communications The Art + Science of Understanding

Understanding: Laughter

You might think the topic of laughter is all fun and games, but the science is compelling — and extraordinarily interesting. For example, did you know that only humans, apes and rats can laugh? And did you know that laughter is primarily a social activity, which is why you can’t tickle yourself? These are just a few of the tidbits revealed by recent research. Read below to understand the hows and whys of laughter.

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Types of Laughter. There isn’t one type of laughter. Some sources say there are 10 distinct types. Others propose there are only two (completely involuntary braying laughter and communicative, social laughter). Check out this two-minute video to learn about five common types of laughter.
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The Biology of Laughter.
We’ve all been laughing since we were infants. But have you ever analyzed laughter in strictly cognitive and physiological terms? Here’s a hint: a lot happens when you chuckle at a friend’s joke or guffaw while watching your favorite comedy. Keep reading to learn more. RESOURCE UNDER DEVELOPMENT.
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Laugh By Numbers.
Laughter is not uniquely human (apes and rats laugh, too), but the virtuosity with which humans express laughter, tell jokes and embrace comedy is unrivaled by any other species. Why do we love laughing so much? We’ve developed an infographic to help you understand the biology — and anthropology — of laughter. Click here to view the graphic.

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Laughter in the Arts.
You smile for the camera all of the time. But if you had been born 500 years ago, you likely would have been reluctant to show your teeth to a portrait artist. Then a generation of Dutch artists came around and put laughter on the map — and on the canvas. Their poet friends did the same on parchment. Click here to learn more.

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Cobalt’s Understanding(x) Series examines complex topics with the goal of increasing understanding among laypeople. At the end of each year, we hope to have a portfolio of materials about the chosen topics that will become part of the public record — a resource for teachers, students and citizens to draw upon in their quest for clarity and connection. If you have any suggestions for topics to be considered, drop us a line.