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tv   Doc Film - A Natural History of Laughter  Deutsche Welle  February 7, 2018 8:15pm-9:00pm CET

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i'll be back at the top of the hour with more world news followed by the day i hope you can join this death. to. the whole g.w. on one of. fourteen sofas global insights the news hour for local heroes and. a double made for minds from.
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press reports one good see that what you were writing was that today's meeting with president bill clinton was going to be a disaster. what did you get rid. of the little stat. oh now for the first time i can tell you that your disastrous. two presidents laughed and the entire world laughed with them didn't write it it was written the divide of language culture and politics laughter brought them closer than anything else. the.
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mainstream science long ignored laughter and even today many questions about the origins function and mechanisms of laughter remain unanswered. what is it that triggers laughter in the brains of primates medical science suggests that there is no single center in the brain responsible for laughter not activates a number of different regions including the brain stem and some more evolved areas of the brain. laughter is not simply a reflex it's a complex neural activity. laughter is
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a mystery that scientists are still working to because. these scientists on mavericks pioneers they've been banned. in a new field the science of laughter. and. making their convinced that laughter is one of the important keys to understanding humankind and its evolution. roberts provan is a neurologist behavioral specialist and professor of psychology. for many years now laughter has been the focus of this research. and for years the biology of laughter has been something of a stepchild of scientific research it's often regarded as a c.e.o. science something less than serious. we're also not ready for this office yet but over history there's been
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a lot of concern it would work to avert most grateful also for us have dealt with the topic of why after plato aristotle taught open howard kurtz and. right up to the present all felt that this was something that had to be dealt with as. many people have tried to explain laughter in seven hundred seventy six the chemist joseph priestley discovered nitric oxide all. his discovery help to prove that laughter is a chemical reaction in the brain. in the eight hundred sixty s. french position dish and a longer use the new tool of photography to study the facial muscles and expressions involved in smiling and laughter. in one thousand nine hundred eighty two the naturalist charles darwin published the expressions of the emotions in man and animals. in his study he compared the behaviors of laughter in adults and
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children. and in humans versus animals. today love to be studied and taught at universities. for example at the university of maryland in baltimore. robert provine and his students are investigating the mechanisms behind laughter. my main motivation was to learn about brain and behavior you know laughter is an ideal place to all. look first of all laughter is a human universal and if we want to learn about a brain mechanism we don't want this person to have it in this person not we want everyone to have it one males and females to have it members of every culture and everyone laughs and pretty much the same way so there's a good place to look. for
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that little rather trayvon has established a methodology to understand and explain the phenomenon of laughter. hard to do that our first approach was to bring people in the laboratory situations such as this laboratory here show them comedy material get them to laugh and then analyze the laughter that was produced. because analyzing the laughter not only describes what that sound was but describes the behavior that produced it ah spare minutes so he decided to switch venue. now he's carrying out research in the university cafeteria a good place to find genuine laughed at. and there are plenty of subjects here for his research providing just has to sit back and have their.
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every gesture and every facial expression before during or after laughter could hold it in. we found was where recording what a person before they were first of all the material was. was it all that you found perhaps only ten or fifteen percent of pre-law comments were joke like that all. when we started to attribute the sex to the speaker and audience some striking things started to appear first of all we felt that males were the best laugh getters both women and men laugh more when men are speaking to them then when women
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are speaking. this is also interesting because it's not because the men decide not to laugh because laughter is not consciously controlled so what we have here is the acting out of this kind of dance between individuals different sexes. so when we're looking at these relationships we are getting insights into what people really think for example if a woman is standing near a man and looking him in the eye standing close to him and all laughing a lot is the very positive thing meaning that the female is sending and unconsciously control message that she is interested in this person. not to pursue this in other ways we had looked at personal ads in newspapers and
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looking at thousands of these we find that a common theme of in search of ads personal ads of women is are interested in men with a good sense of humor. men when they write their ads often will describe their good sense of humor so we have the basis here and sexual marketplace . we humans are social animals provide has become convinced that love to is that cause of us national into action. i don't do you we humans rarely laugh when we are alone well very. but the history of laughter is very hard to investigate and for good reason laughter leaves no trace no physical remnants of its existence so how can researchers go about exploring the origins of laughter. one option is taking a look at our nearest relatives the apes between humans and apes there is but
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a single step. we had to work on him in the netherlands to meet another scientist. is another pioneer in the biology of laughter his favorite place to make observations is at the zoo founded by his grandfather. and with has devoted himself to the study of social behavior and emotion in apes and in humans. and who doesn't carry out his observations in a laboratory he observes from on high rise here in this is. studying
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animals he needs a great deal of patience. well here we are. this is our observation cabin from the tree of the chimpanzee here we have all our equipment. my video camera too to film particular shots i have my microphone in which i had to speak the record the records of the behavior but of course occasionally you want to watch a little bit closer will in fact what we do people think. behavior is just a matter of sitting there and she won't things happen but what is actually the case
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most of the time they simply grew. sleep so it's a matter of a couple of hours a couple of days weeks of months to systematically call that behavior is to call ect observations into our computers and analyze the. managed to decode the facial expressions displayed by great apes. expressions are associated with play with fear and with to take this behavior. to one of the expressions that he identified as the play face. relaxed open mouth expression and expression that's reminiscent of human enough to. hear the small one hits the big one that this couldn't be serious of course both of them showing a beautiful play face while still doing that he sticks his tongue out while he's
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doing it here the small one chasing the big one he gets a little kiss actually in response. and while the playing a laugh this is. this laughing sound. not the slightest reader that he laughed. there was a lot of expression that puzzled me to mend his leg and that is the sign in betty's face which you find in many primates. in most be she's macaques for instance bearing of duties is a signal of submission because they tell me i'm afraid of few it's derived from to fear the face in the fifty's and that is the nearest to.
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push we have always thought that laughter and smiling are so to speak expressions on the same kind but all for different intensity laugh to being the high intensity form smiling a low intensity form of the seemed i was fascinated to see that this means that what we call friend brought smiling has a quite different origin in evolution from our love to laughter playful initiative rionda playful mood we're going to enjoy always selves this is going to be fun where is the broad smile comes from don't fatah i'm friendly i like you don't be anxious i like you harry much. to the left you see the equivalent of our. smile to cry
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secret of our laughter face. to face but studying primates love to means finding ways to make them laugh that's where marina davilla ross and the robot are just from the university put smith comes in she's visiting on him to carry out some research. ha ha like but this is money another. is an expert on chimps and what we've got to do is to see whether we can make our little. law.
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is a baby chimpanzee who is just four months old she's being raised outside the colony because the mother was unable to feed her. four of us caretakers tend to do much we alternate meats one of those takes one week at a time we bring her home in the evening we give her a bottle changing diapers and the next day we bring a back to work and for the first year me. january fourteenth for you. where the able all human the first laughs are always touching moments.
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infants begin to live at around four months of age but if it is already smiles in the womb at seven months that gap in time is further evidence that smiles are distinct from laughter. when you tickle the baby or play a book at the moment the surprising twist in the play for sequence occurs the little child will be with her. and that develops into food blown laughter which we as we grow up. suppress our appreciation that something for the. smarts and love to help establish emotional bonds and promote social intelligence
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long before a child learns how to talk. and the way they laugh own individual style of laughter seems to be in. identical twins often have identical lumps even when they're raised . you know more you know you're. always the primal stimulus for human laughter in fact my candidate for the most joke is saying turkle would be like i'm going to get you i'm going to get you it's the only joke that you can tell both with chimpanzee and a human baby. here
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is. an older juvenile. being tickled by a caretaker who has a very close relationship with that girl and that is very important. of course they can be very strong individuals but it's also important when one interacts with a very young individual to have a close relationship to tickle during the ticking. because otherwise it does not respond and that's so similar to how it is with humans as you can see. the gorilla responds wrongly when speaking to code or even just touched. at his hands. he shows his head. he wants to be tickled probably also there at a later stage she shows his shoulder. he shows his food and then allows why it is he's being tickled and even shortly before the speeding ticket he's
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already producing laughter. the key issue and tickle is that you can't tickle yourself because part of our nervous system cancels out the input so if we would try to tickle ourselves by stroking our ribs part of the nervous system saying ignore that input inhibit that input because it's self produced so to be tickled someone else has to do it ask yourself this when was the last time you were tickled by a stranger to be rather startled style you're more likely to call the police than work. for love to scientists tickling isn't important so. it might not be very sophisticated but it gets the job done. so. when i
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read promo. work on. chimpanzees produce these sabera stuck out to like. vocalisations when they were being tickled i found that highly intriguing and how similar are they these vocalisations are to humans. that was about the time when i heard that bloody battles are able to produce certain vocalizations when they're being tickled and that intrigued me and. thought of that i wanted to reconstruct. if you're going to show off laughter by assessing all the great apes and humans. what we did was we collected it's a ticking song it's off apes and humans and the ticking cells are represented here
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and sonograms. you see an orangutan. here that it's very. and here's a song from a gorilla. and maybe you can already detect it's more complex sounds in here now this is the sound of the chimpanzee. in the hears exactly. and it's also quite complex similar to the chimpanzee and they're all to some similarities to the gorillas however they are stronger differences to their ring attends which are also evolutionary and furthest away from them and here's an example of the human sound. and what we did then when we had the data we used to just like
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geneticist use the acoustic data to reconstruct an evolutionary tree and what we found was that the tree matched exactly the genetic tree and that's revealed that all of these sticking vocalisations came from the same evolutionary origin which indicates that all of these folk loose ations of the great apes are laughable please asians so therefore we could trace back the evolution of laughter in tribute to at least ten to six million years. that turns out that studying the transition from primer. the human laughter not only tells you how other primates are different than us but also explains why we can talk and other apes can't here's a case where laughter can be used as a tool to study vocal evolution. the key events.
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human vocal evolution turns out to be by peter you know who would have guessed it. i am. the thorax is freed of its mechanical support function and this permits the second theory selection for making fancy sales of speech. a lot of linguist or paleo linguist individuals interested in the evolution of language i think is missed this because their main concern is the evolution of brain mechanisms might have to do with grammatical processes and so on and there are less interested in lowly matters of breath control but turns out that breath control is really the secret to everything it started there.
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there is just a small step from love to speech. when humans stood upright that was a crucial moment. and kind stood upright laughed and spoke humans and apes share laughter in coming. but are other animals lower on the evolutionary chain also capable of laughter. to find out more we pay a visit to the pullman campus of washington state university. it's home to a neurologist who is fundamentally transform down understanding of animals. is also a scientist of laughter he's convinced that animals experience emotions that's put him outside the scientific mainstream but pensive believes that emotions and especially humor are a key element of evolutionary to get emotions and love to he's convinced help drive evolution. no one has to. scribed laughter and birds. no one has described
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laughter and reptiles. so it is something that distinguishes us mammals and you know we cannot be sure that every mammal laughs in might be just some of them. up. play is at the center of punk seps research rats are a favorite research subject there is surprisingly playful animals. and it's really a wrestling match. the famous psychologist robert shake visit. ten years ago twenty years ago and said rob was a great evolutionist. he hadn't ever talked about play and i said. i want to show you something in the laboratory and i brought him up to a lab and just put a couple of animals together under red lights where they're very comfortable and
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they started wrestling with each other on and he was just amazed he looked at it and say how did to train the animals to fight that way and i said i didn't train them evolution did by the way they're not fighting they're playing. i said plenty. have to learn about that. play is one of those things that people say is frivolous is just for fun. well if this is just for fun it would not have been built into the price play is one of mother nature's way for us to learn about other people and to find ways to get along with them approve play you can have fun but if you don't know how to engage with others there will be no fun and there will be a lot of senate innocent
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a lot of psychological pain eventually so we have to cherish play. during the course of this research punk's it made a spectacular discovery brad love to. let. us see the. discovery of the locker was literally i walked up one morning and said what if that sound is locked when i went to the lab and my student jeff bergdorf was waiting for me i said jeff let's go to call some rats and he looked at me ok. and we took the first rat and there's church and church and church and we took the second rat nature and sure i went there third fret every rat of course other people were skeptical with that but we collected more and more data it all pointed in the same direction and our attitude is you go with the data you know you
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don't go with logic the data tells you the nature of the world and we now know more about rat laughter than we know about human life at least in the brain. when a rat enough's it's not audible to the human in the rasam it's a series of high frequency chuckles in the range of fifty kilo heads to hear a rattle off uses an ultrasound detector since we can stimulate right there by stimulating specific parts of the brain. and every place you stimuli that you get a rat laughter which is kind did you choose the animal likes it the animal will turn on the stimulation themselves so now we know it's
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a positive emotion for. jason how is this any more true for a good responder who's actually been chirping when you're older you know that like a bird. you're going to write down he must love me. if you stop please just leave your he knew in there after one of these turn. very gently you never do it's their way of saying congress play. is one of only a handful of scientists who study this controversial subject the emotions of animals so this our animal laboratory and we have two hundred animals here we have happy animals to have been bred for a chirp a while after types of sounds and then on the other side there are animals that are not so happy. to not try or very much at all it turns out the animals that chirp
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a lot and ones that are half way are very resistant to depression in the animals that are sad and do not live off as much of the trip as much they tend to become depressed more easily. so what can we learn by ticking rats. so a study of. can lead to a slender standing of the chemistry. and the chemistry can lead us into new medicines psychiatric medicines that can make people feel better if they're feeling depressed we are still in a primitive area where we have lots of drugs for depression but none of them really make people feel good fast. so if we found one that was not addictive i think it would be a wonderful medicine for depression. if you think we humans have
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a natural remedy against sadness and depression laughter. love to lift sound mood and gives our immune system a boost and laughter benefits our cannier vascular system and helps lessen the impact of stress. oh. you know laughter is a sign that your life is going well a life filled with laughter is a good one the question always comes up does laughter make us healthy. kinds of laugh yoga convinced of the benefits of laughter they laugh on purpose to reduce stress and improve their health and well being make. someone laugh yoga practitioners amazing influence in you in france with the international school of love to hold its annual symposium. they charge enough to to be taken more seriously
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the average adult spends just six minutes a day nothing in the one nine hundred fifty s. it was eighteen minutes a day. when i was like this is up to you to see if you will know my kids. laughter yoga is a fascinating topic that taps into the contagious nature of laughter whether we call it yoga or not basically we laugh when other people well i. love to house release us from our individual and collective lorries and it seems to be contagious but why. this is a mechanism not only involved linking people and groups together but it may also
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provide insights and to the roots of empathy you know what are the mechanisms that allow us to share the feelings of other individuals contagious laughter is one of those places to work another one for example would be contagious yawning we can also ask the questions are individuals that are deficient in the bill you produce contagious behavior might they show schizo lloyd behavior might they be prone to autism in fact there's even some plymouth area evidence indicates that autistic individuals are deficient and their ability to produce these contagious acts so here using the unlikely tools of contagious behavior be it contagious laughter or contagious yawning we have something that's powerful socially powerful philosophically and also powerful clinically. the issue of contagious behavior also contributes to you know the concern with for example be so-called mirror neurons.
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then in the runs i discovered that may be directly linked to why not contagious but to find out more we have to explore the mysteries of the brain itself. in one thousand nine hundred eighteen researches studying apes made an important discovery. and experiment with macaques jack on what it's about he was investigating the most in the ronstadt enable a very simple action grasping the peanuts. on the macaque sees the peanuts and reaches five that space the neurons and it's a rebuilt call it takes. this new and all activity is indicated by sound.
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seem to one day it's a lot he picked up the peanut. the card is watching but then comes the surprise. that it was he hears the sound that indicates near and all activity even though the macaque isn't moving so the apes neurons are being activated simply by observing someone else's movement this marks the discovery of mirror neurons. and. do you come out it's a loss he is a professor of physiology and director of the department of neurons sciences at the university of parma in italy. there was no way we could have known these neurons existed. but our discovery was not random but it was a result of our approach. others who studied the motor neuron system we took an ecological approach. in the monkey in front of us and we played with it
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the traditional research used to conditioning approach the monkey would sit in a chair in front of a screen when it moved it's on they would study the movement and how it worked. our major contribution was to use a very different approach we played with the monkey and that made it possible for us to discover something that no one suspected might exist it should have been said could you foresee. this. just after the discovery of mirror neurons and monkey is the next step was to demonstrate their existence in the human brain. as. we've known for a number of years now when a person sees someone laughing consciously in the same muscles are activated as if
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they were laughing themselves. the same thing happens when you're observe another person crying because it will make that activate your facial muscles as if you yourself were crying. that say oh if i walk into a room where everyone's laughing i'll start to laugh to see without knowing why. i asked. but the. dream of in this case we don't talk about empathy but emotional contagion banned here too we believe that mirror neurons may be playing an important role important that. bag was. when we first discovered mirror neurons we asked ourselves two questions what are they used for to understand what to imitate something the results show that with
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monkeys they used for understanding with humans they used for both to understand and to imitate but it could be to keep it that the. right. to wait long mirror neurons help make it possible for mammals to communicate emotion and to understand the emotions of others. over the course of evolution mirror neurons helped primates develop imitation skills which promotes social cohesion. so it's no surprise that humans the most social of animals possess and usually complex mirror mechanism and that the mechanism has a link to laughter. it's
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apparent that laughter is not unique to humans that discovery has helped us arrive as a better understanding of the science of evolution. the researchers working in this field must be interdisciplinary in their approach and they're still pioneers sometimes regarded with skepticism. some people say to me. i prove. that the animals have emotions. and i my answer to them is that is not an appropriate question because science never deals in proof. science deals in evidence and at this moment in time. whether animals have the motions is supported by an everest of evidence. by looking at something like
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a laughter it's biological basis we're working on universals things that bind us together that don't drive us apart so i think certainly it's not dangerous and it helps us to appreciate things that bridge bridge and of israel from different cultures and individuals throughout history and i think it's it's really important for that reason. we're learning now that animals. are complex ways to communicate with one another positively and that shows us that we're not only unique to make use of certain important social skills. if i were to come from the planet of must and i look at humans i would say that's a remarkable species not only do they build houses and and they have four reels they move but they're constantly doing these barking sounds hard. one another good
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to talk about how it's remarkable species everything is and frantically supported by our expressive behavior in that respect of course we are developed almost much farther than any other primate. after has shown itself to be a fascinating tool to study the evolution of our species just as darwin predicted more than a century ago we now understand that humans share certain basic emotions with their animal. study of laughter is also the study of what makes humans social animals what binds us together. and it's helped spur a new area of biological research the social sciences life to it would seem. is a serious business. know
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