Ontogeny Of Laughter

Laughter and crying both appear to be innate mechanisms in humans, although laughter's onset occurs later:

whereas crying emerges at birth and smiling at approximately 2 or 3 weeks of age, the characteristic expiratory movement of laughter does not appear until approximately 4-6 months. However, cases of so-called gelastic (or laughing) seizures in neonates indicate that neural and physiological structures subserving laughter are in place at birth. Laughter's innateness is further suggested by the fact that it is observed in deaf-blind children, even those who could not have learned about it by touching people's faces. Although laughter initially occurs involuntarily, whether in response to tickling or peek-a-boo games or as a reaction to a sudden change in the sensory environment, such as an unexpected noise, over the course of development laughter becomes more regulated, under voluntary control, and elicited in response to cognitive and social stimuli rather than physical stimuli per se.

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