Reviewed by Marilyn Cook
LOL! Watching this DVD to learn about "The Natural History of Laughter" was no laughing matter. The scientists in this presentation study laughter as neuroscientists. The viewer finds that even Darwin studied behavior in adults and children as well as humans and animals.
Laughter occurs in all cultures, everyone has the capacity, and it is not consciously controlled. One neuroscientist, Robert Provine, has observed laughter and studied the brain mechanisms. He has analyzed laughter sounds and the the behavior they produce. The presentation discusses also the evolution of brain mechanisms in relation to linguistics and that laughter to speaking is only a small step. Through interviews with scientists, lab visits as experiments are run, university veterinarian clinics, and even observations in a cafeteria at a university, Dr. Provine observes laughing behavior. The film also examines issues of laughter as contagious behavior that may lead to the examination of other contagious behavior. Questions such as "Does laughter makes us healthy?" are also explored.
Using this presentation as an introduction to the study of the brain in general and laughter specifically can help students see neuroscience in action—all the while LOL. I would use this with secondary students not only to show the relevance of laughter but as a tool to show how scientists do experiments in many studies. This presentation can help students think beyond LOL and understand the importance of this study throughout history. Laughing and the study of laughter is "no laughing matter." It is serious stuff. What better way to introduce a study and provide students with a reason to laugh as they study!
Review posted on 11/30/2012