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Hysterically laughing. Laughing so hard he endangered the flight. In fact, the young pilot had been waking up other members of his household in the middle of night as he, sound asleep, broke out in peals of laughter. As it turned out, the pilot, who showed no other symptoms when he was documented with the problem inwas experiencing a rare form of epileptic episode called gelastic seizure. The main symptom of a gelastic seizure is uncontrolled laughter. However, as the case of the pilot illustrates, there can be a variety of underlying causes for these ill-timed outbursts.
The result is pathological laughing or crying, also sometimes called involuntary emotional expression disorder. Now, Cleveland Clinic researchers are testing an experimental treatment, a combination of two medications, dextromethorphan and low-dose quinidine, to help Laughing fit causes the involuntary outbursts.
However, involuntary emotional expression disorder turns out to be something of a misnomer. In the book, Provine relates an amazing tale of an incident that took Laughing fit causes inin Tanganyika now Tanzania. A group of schoolgirls began laughing.
Other girls saw and heard their laughter and they started laughing. Soon, the entire school was giggling uncontrollably, so much so that school had to be dismissed. This epidemic of uncontrollable, contagious laughter went on for six months. When someone with a brain lesion or neuron damage suffers fits of laughter or crying without feeling especially happy or sad, a skilled neurologist can point to a cause. Explaining why an otherwise healthy person might break into tears or start laughing is more difficult. Josef Parvizia Stanford University neurologist who studies seizures and pathological crying and laughing, agrees that outbursts of laughter or crying are not really under our complete control, no matter how much we think they are.
Our brains are a dynamic set of interconnected structures with wiring forming a system that has evolved Laughing fit causes millions of years, Parvizi said. The idea that human beings can exert complete control over this system the way we can program a computer is a relic of old-fashioned hubris and moralizing. Crying and laughter depend on flexible interplay between these brain structures, some of which are evolutionarily ancient.
That interplay often takes place without our conscious selves knowing anything about it, just as our brain tells our hearts to beat. So, just as something like a nerve communication foul-up can create a harmless momentary heart flutter, the brain regions involved in laughing or crying could evoke a sudden outburst.
Just as nerve communications cause our hearts to beat without us being aware of it, the sight of someone falling down the stairs can evoke a loud guffaw before we can stop it. Neuroscientists have found that they can evoke crying jags by stimulating a structure called the subthalamic nucleus. When scientists used electrodes to stimulate a region called the anterior cingulatethey got smiles.
By turning up the juice, they triggered long, hearty laughter. Most laughter is not the result of a jokeProvine said. When chimps wrestle, they laugh. When mice are tickled, they laugh. In reality, humor is a mysteryat least in the way it affects the brain. This is not to say that our cortex, the reasoning part of our brains, cannot exert some control over an urge to cry or laugh.
Our conscious brain tries to control these desires according to the norms of our culture as we learn through experience what our emotional response ought to be to various situations. Then it triggers the emotional response. Ever been unable to stop laughing or crying? Tell us your most embarassing outburst. Selected responses may be published. IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
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