Science of Laughter Examined

WASHINGTON (AP) - Did you know rats like to be tickled?

A Bowling Green University professor says by studying rats he and other scientists can figure out what's going on in the brain during laughter.

Tickling rats is no joke. A Northwestern University professor has found that laughter in rats produces a chemical that acts as an antidepressant and anxiety-reducer. He thinks the same thing probably happens in humans, too.

This would give doctors a new chemical target in the brain when developing drugs that fight depression and anxiety in people.

While studying laughter is serious work to researchers, it doesn't get much respect when they're seeking research grants. For that reason, one researcher says he substitutes "positive emotional response" for the word "laughter."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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