Have you ever found yourself or witnessed someone laughing to the point of tears? This seems like a conflicting emotional response as tears typically signify sadness, while laughter is an expression of joy. Scientists have not completely pinned down why our bodies produce tears when we laugh too hard, but they have a few theories. Recently, Yale University psychologist, Dr. Oriana R. AragГn, led a research study that evaluated why we experience certain physical reactions to emotional situations. Her team defined these seemingly inappropriate responses (crying while laughing, nervous laughter, etc. ) as dimorphous expressions. According to Dr. AragГn, we cry when we laugh so hard because the body is trying to regulate itself in response to strong emotions. Some believe crying while laughing occurs because both reactions are a result of increased emotion. By crying, the body attempts to return to a regular level of functioning. Some evidence suggests the same part of the brain controls both crying and laughing.
For example, a condition called the Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) causes people to have uncontrollable outbursts of crying or laughter because of neurological conditions or brain injuries, leading scientists to believe crying and laughter are run by the same area of the brain. Others theorize people cry while laughing because of too much pressure around the tear ducts due to the body shaking during strong laughter. These tears are called reflex tears, which occur when the eyes come in contact with an irritant such as a strong gust of wind or the aroma of a freshly sliced onion. It is important to note these are different from emotional tears, which are produced in response to an experienced emotion, such as sadness or anxiety. Both crying and laughing have positive emotional benefits. The emotional tears produced from crying are biologically different from other tears our eyes produce. They contain hormones and endorphins in response to stress, which aid in regulating emotions.
This is why people say they feel relieved after crying. Similarly, laughter decreases stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, which also creates a feel-good effect. Next time you see someone doubled over from laughter with tears streaming down their face, you ll know that their eyes are functioning normally. If you or someone you know experience frequent tears that are not related to an emotional reaction,. We can help.
We laugh in joy and cry over pain, right? Well, it turns out that it\’s not so black-and-white. Although not fully understood, we can laugh until we cry. One explanation for this is that both and crying happen during times of high emotional arousal, University of Maryland at Baltimore psychologist Robert Provine told Prevention. com. There\’s also evidence that the same part of the brain is responsible for both crying and laughing. In fact, lesions on certain regions of the brain have been linked to a syndrome called pathological laughter and crying (PLC), which is characterized by uncontrollable outbursts of these two expressions.
The fact that the same lesion causes both tears and laughter suggests they are linked somehow, according to a PBS special, \”The Adult Brain. \” Another explanation points to pressure being put on the as a result of a body-shaking, vigorous laugh. These tears are considered reflex tears, because they result from external factors, such as an airborne irritant or the wind, and not due to emotion. Emotional tears have a different chemical makeup than the reflex teardrops, according to research by William Frey, professor at the University of Minnesota. The contain more of certain hormones, including leucine enkephalin, a natural painkiller. Got a question? to Life\’s Little Mysteries and we\’ll try to answer it. Due to the volume of questions, we unfortunately can\’t reply individually, but we will publish answers to the most intriguing questions, so check back soon.