There’s plenty research pointing to the psychosomatic connection between laughter – even smiling – and good health. And now a team of French scientists has discovered that humour appears to help the learning process, too.
The findings of the experiment, conducted by Rana Esseily and her colleagues, and published in the journal Cognition and Emotion, reveal that toddlers who laughed at the actions of an adult were better able to mirror those actions themselves.
Esseily has two possible explanations for this phenomenon:
The first relates to temperament. She says: “In this case, it is not humour per se that may have facilitated learning, but [that] temperamentally ‘smiley’ babies were more likely to engage with the environment and therefore to attempt and succeed at the task.”
‘Bubbly’ babies might have higher social skills or cognitive capacities, which allows them to interact more easily and pick up on behaviours.
The second explanation has to do with brain chemistry. Positive emotions increase dopamine levels in the brain, the likes of which directly influence the ability to absorb new information and put it into practice. “Thus, the effect observed here might be a general effect due to positive emotion and not to humour or laughter per se,” she says.
So a giggle a day may do more than keep the doctor away, but – science aside – who doesn’t love to make their little one laugh out loud, anyway?