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FEATURE ARTICLE

Laughter

The study of laughter provides a novel approach to the mechanisms and evolution of vocal production, perception and social behavior

Robert Provine

What is laughter and when do we do it? It's a simple question, but it turns out that we know less about human laughter than we do about the calls and songs of some species of birds and nonhuman primates. By approaching human laughter from the viewpoint of a neuroethologist, Provine attempts to shed some light on laughter as a stereotyped, species-specific form of communication. Among other things, Provine's results have consequences for theories of speech perception and the livelihood of female comedians, who may find nothing to laugh about.


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