Re: Laughing

From: William Benzon (
Date: Sun 01 Dec 2002 - 11:57:30 GMT

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    on 12/1/02 4:45 AM, Mika Naimark at wrote:

    > Dear list members,
    > for many years I was looking for publications and information concerning
    > the phenomenon of laughter, to refute or confirm the following ideas:
    > Human laughter is not entirely unique -- cat's purring is another sample of
    > the same nature. Here I mean a peculiar condition of the brain, socially
    > expressed in small periodical convulsions of the body, and corresponding
    > periodical sounds. The sounds seem to result from the said convulsions
    > interference with breathing.
    For laughter in rats, see:

    Jaak Panksepp, Jeffrey Burgdorf, 50-kHz chirping (laughter?) in response to conditioned and unconditioned tickle-induced reward in rats: effects of social housing and genetic variables, Behavioural Brain Research 115 (2000) 2538


    In these studies the incidence of conditioned and unconditioned 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in young rats was measured in response to rewarding manual tickling by an experimenter. We found that isolate-housed animals vocalize much more then socially housed ones, and when their housing conditions are reversed, they gradually shift their vocalization tendencies. Isolate-housed animals also show quicker acquisition of instrumental tasks for tickling, and exhibit less avoidance of tickling as compared to socially housed Ss. Isolate-housed animals also show rapid acquisition of 50-kHz USVs to a conditioned stimulus that predicts tickle reward, while socially housed animals do not. We successfully bred for high and low vocalization rates in response to tickling within four generations. The high tickle line showed quicker acquisition of an instrumental task for, as well as less avoidance of, tickling as compared to the random and low tickle lines. They also played more. Lastly, we found that the glutamate antagonist MK-801 can reduce tickle-induced 50-kHz USVs, but is resistant to opioid, dopamine and cholinergic stimulant and blocking agents. Overall, these results suggest that tickle evoked 50-kHz USVs may be a useful behavioral marker of positive social affect in rats. Difficulties with such concepts are also discussed.

    2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

    Keywords : Ultrasonic vocalizations; Reward; Reinforcement; Classical conditioning; Instrumental conditioning; Appetitive motivation; Tickling; Laughter

    William L. Benzon
    708 Jersey Avenue, Apt. 2A
    Jersey City, NJ 07302
    201 217-1010
    "You won't get a wild heroic ride to heaven on pretty little
    sounds."--George Ives 
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