Beyond a joke: From animal laughter to human joy?

1st paragraph of this short essay: In the beginning was the word…but was the word funny? Research suggests that the capacity for human laughter preceded the capacity for speech during evolution of the brain. Indeed, neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the brain (1), and ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals eons before we humans came along with our hahahas and verbal repartee. Recent studies in rats, dogs, and chimps (2, 3) are providing evidence that laughter and joy may not be uniquely human traits.

1st paragraph of this short essay: In the beginning was the word…but was the word funny? Research suggests that the capacity for human laughter preceded the capacity for speech during evolution of the brain. Indeed, neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the brain (1), and ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals eons before we humans came along with our hahahas and verbal repartee. Recent studies in rats, dogs, and chimps (2, 3) are providing evidence that laughter and joy may not be uniquely human traits.

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