978-0-670-89375-1 / 9780670893751

Laughter: A Scientific Investigation


Publisher:Viking Adult



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About the book:

The first comprehensive, scientific--and often humorous--look at one of our most common yet complex and puzzling behaviors, by the recognized expert in the field

Guffaws in a crowded bar, giggles that punctuate lovers' murmurs, a blaring TV laugh track--the sounds of laughter are a fundamental part of life's texture. Science has largely overlooked this basic component of our humanity, but in Laughter neurobiologist Robert Provine takes a long-anticipated and wide-ranging look at this intriguing and surprising topic.

Based on a decade of work in the field, Provine reveals that laughter is mostly a tool in social relationships rather than a simple response to humor; that women laugh more at men than vice versa; that speakers tend to laugh more than their audiences; that tickling rather than being a reflex is actually a form of communication. Drawing upon the latest evidence, much of it presented here for the first time, Provine's analysis of laughter includes such diverse topics as the sonic analysis of laughter, how laughter has been musically notated in opera scores, a 1962 laughing epidemic that immobilized an entire African community, and the genuine health benefits of laughing.

Laughter is the rare science book that is both a groundbreaking study and wonderfully entertaining exploration of the human animal.

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