People always say, “laughter is the best medicine”. Other than its health benefits, laughter is also beneficial for your mental, emotional and social well-being. Physically, it relaxes the body muscles, boosts the immune system, release endorphins and dopamine, and protects the heart. Mentally, it positively affects your creativity, problem solving, and coping mechanism to stress. Socially, it strengthens personal relationships and increases your attractiveness to others.
As if it is not enough, a gelotologist, an expert in the study of humour (gelotology) can tell you that it has positive effects on learning, too. A funny and inspiring motivational speaker often catches our attention. Why?
The Effect of a Good Punchline
Upon hearing a funny line, you giggle and the energy kicks in. It starts from the brain’s central part then activates its different connections. These parts are responsible for muscle control, higher thought and emotions. Then, it affects your eyes, lungs, heart, and muscles, triggering some positive emotions.
The Effect of Humor on Learning
A group of researchers at the University of Tuebingen in Germany studied laughter perception network by scanning the brains of volunteers upon hearing laughter. Dr. Dirk Wildgruber, the research lead, said “Specific cerebral connectivity patterns during perception of these different types of laughter presumably reflect modulation of attentional mechanisms and processing resources.”
These findings support the studies conducted about humor affecting learning. One of which was that of Sam Houston State University psychologist Randy Garner, PhD. He claimed that students are more likely to recall a lecture when it was interjected with jokes. Also, the 22-study research project of Dolf Zillmann and his colleagues at the Indiana University found that humor can make the learning experience more pleasant. Ron Berk, PhD, a professor practicing humor in the classroom, also said that it taps students’ multiple intelligences.
Humor is indeed a huge factor when it comes to learning. The brain is like a parachute that works only when opened. So, laugh mand let it open.