Epilepsy Talk

Laughter as effective as cocaine? | November 15, 2022

Yup. A comic cartoon fires up the same brain center as a shot of cocaine, researchers report.

A team at Stanford University in California asked lab mates, spouses and friends to select the wittiest newspaper cartoons from a portfolio. They showed the winning array to 16 volunteers while peering inside their heads with an MRI.

The cartoons activated the same reward circuits in the brain that are tickled by cocaine, money or a pretty face, the neuroscientists found. (Wow!)

One brain region in particular, the nucleus accumbens, lit up seconds after a rib-tickler but remained listless after a lackluster cartoon.

The nucleus accumbens is awash with the “feel good” chemical dopamine. And the region’s “buzz” may explain the euphoria that follows a good joke, the team suggests.

“Intuitively, it makes sense,” agrees Bill Kelley, who studies humor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Earlier investigations found that humor triggers brain regions that work out a joke’s language and meaning.

Kelley, for example, has studied people’s brains while they watched episodes of television comedies Seinfeld and The Simpsons.

A powerful MRI machine and a particularly detailed analysis picked up activity in the reward areas, suggests lead researcher Allan Reiss who hopes that the finding could help to diagnose the early stages of depression or show whether antidepressants are taking effect when people’s appreciation of humor is altered.

More scientific evidence…

Laughter can also improve your EEG results!

Scientists traced the brainwave activity of people responding to funny material when hooked up to an EEG and measured their brain activity when they laughed.

In each case, the brain produced a regular electrical pattern. Because, less than a half-second after exposure to something funny, an electrical wave moves through the cerebral cortex.

If the wave takes a negative charge, laughter results. If it maintains a positive charge, no response is given at all.

Next, the left hemisphere analyzes the words and structures of the joke.

The right hemisphere “gets” the joke. The visual sensory area of the occipital lobe creates images. The limbic (emotional) system makes you happier and the motor sections make you smile or laugh.

Try it, you’ll like it…

Human beings love to laugh, and the average adult laughs 17 times a day, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

But, not all laughter is alike.

There’s the superiority theory when we laugh at jokes that focus on someone else’s mistakes, stupidity or misfortune. (Now you wouldn’t do that would you?)

Then there’s the relief aspect. (Whew!) That’s the one that relieves tension and acts as an escape mechanism. (According to Dr. Lisa Rosenberg, humor, especially dark humor, can help workers cope with stressful situations. “The act of producing humor, of making a joke, gives us a mental break and increases our objectivity in the face of overwhelming stress,” she says.)

And then the awkward cover-up. If I laugh at myself first, maybe you’ll laugh along with me and not notice my embarrassment.

And also the “make em laugh” concept. Lighten and brighten things up. I bet if you were in a room full of people and started a good, genuine belly laugh, others would start to smile, then laugh, because laughter is catching.

In addition to the domino effect of joy and amusement, laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body.

It relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress. It dissolves negative emotions. It dispels anger.

After all, how can you be angry if you’re laughing? Or depressed. Or laden down with troubles?

Science even proves it.

So, get happy! And skip the cocaine…








  1. WOW!!, This relates to so much of what I told my mom this morning to the degree of how my life changed on Thanksgiving Day 1960. That’s why I always HATE this time of the year, & I always will, even as she reminded me that I have been 1 year with no seizures. So yeah, this has happened a couple of time in my life when I went 1 year with out a seizure, BUT what is it going to take to even the score out of 62 years & maybe there were 24 years when I went GRAND MAL SEIZURE FREE, but I still had the petit mals at times, plus WHAT DOCTORS relates to so much of the seizure life as I have lived now for like 62 years in 2 more weeks ? Sure laugh it all off I guess, or just be happy I am alive. Right. being HAPPY only is determined by ”circumstances” and when the water & winds on the shores & land are calm, you have ALL YOU EVER WANTED, you’re going to be HAPPY & SMILE A LOT. BUT take that all away, with or without seizures THEN WHAT ? Being happy, & smiling because you are living & having all you ever wanted, as FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT never worked for me,, & that never replaces J O Y, that is given by God to his believers in him & Jesus Christ. So WHY worry over being happy & faking what really does not matter ? It is the JOY of God & Jesus both, that matters more when brain chemistry really changes for life, when you know all things here are only temporary, as having JOY based on the life you know that IS WAITING TO BE REWARDED TO ME & others I know, who believe in God & Jesus, this world & the things of it, will destroy itself as you see this happening by the day with each dusk & dawn you live through. The middle verse of the Bible says,, It is better to trust in the Lord than to have confidence in man. Psalm 118:8. There are 1187 verses BEFORE & AFTER Psalm 118:8 No brain neuroscientist can nor will care to do a study on just 1 verse to a human brain, after people believe & know there IS A HIGHER POWER that effects all brain chemistry & heart actions too, that DOES give people a PEACE OF MIND that nothing matters much, if you laugh, or smile a lot, ( BASED ON WHAT ? ) or when you can just quietly & peacefully live with THAT JOY that God can only give to a person IF they choose to believe & receive it 1st. Man has always interfered with God’s plan with DRUGS & everything else in the medical world, to where 99.5% of the time the patient is under authority of doctor after doctor, instead of the hands of God. I know, as I have lived that for 61 + years. I’ll never be able to go off the drugs, as they had done the damages to my brain since 7 months old, that I can’t go off drugs or ever be healed 100% without a drug or more in my life. BUT I have the JOY & to know that I have a better life waiting for me hopefully sooner than later.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by James D — November 15, 2022 @ 9:00 AM

  2. Very nice 👍✔️…
    How about That!! 🙂🙂🌎
    Now the same Advice that
    Grandma, Elders, Friends
    …and History buffs like to say,
    is finally accepted by Science as True;
    *Laughter is Good Medicine*
    Wishing you all a good laugh 😂 today 🙂!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Robert — November 15, 2022 @ 9:33 AM

  3. Laughter and a good mood have always had a beneficial effect on development and the whole organism. But when it’s time to see my neurologist and EEG, everything curls up in my stomach. I share these things with him before the examination, and accordingly deviations appear, which according to him are within the normal range. But in other situations it leads me to a deduction. If my day is going cheerfully, after hearing the alarm on the phone that it is time for pills, I feel sad again. I am waiting to be happy in the period when I will be seizures for at least 1 year, even with medicines that doctors still cannot find. In fact, there was such a period, but two doctors, in order to extract money from the health fund, stopped my treatment, which, according to the whiny old woman, is not a treatment, but a way to drug you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Goro Dimitrov — November 15, 2022 @ 10:02 AM

  4. I guess you’re saying, that laughter is NOT enough medicine for you? Or it’s just not present in your life.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 15, 2022 @ 10:07 AM

  5. Any wonder why people had been flocking & flooding to comedy clubs & comic shows, publishing comic books, producing & watching comic films in search of good laugher for centuries?
    Obviously, laughter must have effective positive remedy in the wider spectrum of their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Gerrie — November 15, 2022 @ 1:15 PM

  6. That explains a lot. Probably some of us are on so many “meds” to control our seizures that we look for anything that is not drug-like to simply just make us feel better.

    I go to my Epilepsy Foundation’s Coffee Conversations. It’s like a two in one kind of experience: 1)Caffeine from the Coffee certainly gives my body some kind of a jump. 2)The Conversation is very pleasant and contains quite a bit of humor and laughter.

    In fact, the people who know me make sure I get to Coffee Conversations. Well, it gets me out of the apartment and because I always come back in a better mood.

    Caffeine and laughter! Yep, it explains a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by George — November 16, 2022 @ 7:02 PM

  7. For 5 years, for colds and flu, I have been using Schussler’s salts, sea water, nose drops with silver water and propolis, a warm sinus shower every 2-3 hours, folk remedies, and lying in bed. I am being treated for a little longer. This is what my pharmacist advises me, knowing how many pills I take.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Goro Dimitrov — November 18, 2022 @ 3:14 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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