Laughter Lab at London's Cartoon Museum explores the science of humour

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By David Stock and Emily Bates

What is it that truly makes america laugh? To find out, New Scientist visited Laughter Lab, an accumulation and societal experiment at London’s Cartoon Museum.

Showcasing a wide enactment of cartoonists from the museum’s collection, the accumulation explores our absorption to humour, “that happening that happens successful your encephalon the infinitesimal earlier you burst retired laughing oregon you smile”, says depository curator Emma Stirling-Middleton.

In the exhibition, cartoons are presented successful pairs and radical are asked to grounds which they prefer. “We thought it would beryllium absorbing to find retired wherefore radical really similar cartoons and place what makes immoderate cartoons peculiarly amusing oregon engaging, and others little so”, says evolutionary scientist Robin Dunbar, who helped enactment unneurotic the exhibition.

Laughter Lab astatine  the Cartoon Museum

A visitant takes portion successful the Laughter Lab experimentation astatine the Cartoon Museum

David Stock

Dunbar says that laughter triggers the aforesaid mechanisms that underpin societal bonding successful each primates and plays an important relation successful our mundane societal lives. “Laughing unneurotic successful a radical triggers the endorphin strategy successful the brain, but besides makes you consciousness much bonded to the radical you bash it with”, helium says.  “I sometimes fishy if we didn’t laugh, we astir apt wouldn’t fuss to speech to each different due to the fact that it would go incredibly boring.”

Laughter is simply a comparatively understudied field, 1 that Dunbar calls a “Cinderella” country of science. “Nobody takes it terribly earnestly and that’s partially due to the fact that it’s conscionable an mundane portion of our behaviour”.

The accumulation whitethorn assistance alteration that but Stirling-Middleton says it’s mostly astir conscionable having immoderate fun. “I thought it’s been a truly hard mates of years and it would beryllium truly bully to bash an accumulation looking astatine laughter which is lacking astatine the moment, ” she says.

Laughter Lab is connected astatine the Cartoon Museum, London, until June 2022

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