Mind That Laughter; Human Brain Can Tell Fake From Original

It turns out our brains are not so easy to fool with fake smiles and false laughter, afterall. Dr. Carolyn McGettigan from Royal Holloway, University of London headed a study to determine the sensitivity of the human brain to emotional and social quality of modes of happiness. The gist of it – the brain is extremely clever at telling original laughter from a fake.

Fake laughter

iStockphoto/Wouter Van Caspel

The study involved participants who would listen to participants genuinely laughing while watching funny videos on YouTube. The same participants would then be made to watch funny videos once more upon which they would merely force laughter. The brain responses were recorded by the researcher each time.  Dr. Carolyn concluded that the neurological reaction of participants, who had no clue about the purpose of the research, was distinct when they heard fake laughter.

Joker laughing

Mirror mirror on the wall, am I faking it at all?

Dr. Carolyn was ‘fascinated’ to note that not only does the human brain distinguish between genuine and false laughter, but it also seeks the reasons behind the unoriginality. The study also concluded that being a good listener is not enough; as someone who can imitate a laugh can make the distinction clearer and easier to spot. So then, better think twice before you fake a laugh next time; it might earn you more than just a frown.

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