Why do we laugh when we tickle?


A tickle is an incidental contact that transmits impulses to the hypothalamus. It is the part of the brain that regulates autonomic reactions.

The body retaliates in the form of some complicated responses. These may include shrieking, laughing, and movements such as thrusting, splurging or recoiling back.

There are two types of tickling anomalies gargalesis and knismesis. Gargalesis is the severe tickling that causes laughing. It happens when sensitive regions like the armpits and stomach are the target—Knismesis, which is mild tickling that causes itchiness rather than laughing. You won’t be able to tease yourself since your brain anticipates it.

Different people react in another way when tickled. There are many hypotheses on why these reflex reactions complement the action of tickling.

The phenomenon behind tickling

During the tickling process, two areas of the brain respond. They are the somatic nervous system and the anterior cingulate cortex.

The somatic cortex is the section that is in charge of detecting touch. At the same time, the cingulate cortex produces pleasant emotions.

A gentle touch stimulates the nerve fibers in your epidermis, which send a message to your brain via the neurological system. It employs functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) devices.

The Rolandic Operculum regulates facial motions, vocal and emotional reactions. For example, it is activated by laughing either at a joke or in response to tickling.

Tickling also starts a second area: the hypothalamus. It is the part of the brain that makes us want to run away from danger.

The activity of the hypothalamus suggests that our reaction to tickling is a primordial defense technique. According to researchers, it helps in signaling subservience in the wake of an overpowering opponent.

The theory is that ticklishness in certain regions encourages people to defend them. It gives them an optimal experience.

Now let’s have an insight into the phenomenon of self-tickling. Why is tickling yourself unfelt? The solution links to the cerebellum, a part of the brain responsible for movements. It can tell the difference between anticipated and unanticipated stimuli.

When you attempt self-tickling, the cerebellum anticipates the feeling. It, in turn, cancels out other brain regions’ responses.

Thus, the brain already recognizes your impulse to tickle, and it is no longer a surprise or threat. However, if there is a tiny delay between your motion and the tickling that results, the experience might feel tickly.

The lengthier the time, the more precarious it becomes. So, if you’re interested in investing in a few robots, you could be able to tickle yourself.

laugh when tickle

Unraveling the advantages of tickling

Coping with stress

Tickling induces a feeling of happiness. It can aid in the reduction of emotional distress. As a result of tickling, our body releases hormones that make us feel good. It might also help in the treatment of stress-related diseases such as hypertension.

Formation of the social/emotional bond

Tickling may be a way to show compassion and caring while also strengthening the emotional relationship.

It generally happens between individuals who are familiar with one another. For example, parents tickle their toddlers while their partners tickle adults.

Tickling is typically used to communicate closeness, emotions, and compassion. In other words, the tickle is a pleasant gesture.

According to Charles Darwin, tickling is a common form of social connection. Therefore, it plays an essential role in the evolution of mother-baby interaction.

He also says that tickle-induced laughing requires proximity with another person. The relationship may also be created among siblings and friends.

Assists in defense mechanism

Tickling attracts your focus to the tickle’s location very instantly. It is followed by a bodily reaction that involves efforts to remove the origin of the feeling.

It would be an element of our defense system. It signifies surrender as a result of flight by stimulating the region of our brain that expects discomfort.

Activities of the hypothalamus surge at a tickling occurrence.

As a result, this occurrence is connected to the “fight or flight” response, the body’s most important protective system.

Weight regulation

Tickling causes muscular movement and laughing, both of which burn fat. According to statistics, laughing for 10-15 minutes may burn up to 40 calories.

A good laugh not only burns calories but also relaxes and rejuvenates you. You’re feeling energized and eager to get out and about.

In addition, it may reduce the likelihood of stress-related eating. As a result, it’s a pleasant method to lose weight.

On the other hand, tickling is also used as a means to torture. Laughter is commonly believed to be a pleasurable reaction.

While, in tickle torture, the one who is being tickled laughs regardless of the situation.

Forced tickling torment may cause severe emotional and physical harm to a subject. Therefore, it has been employed as an intimidation tactic or merely to demonstrate power and control.

During World War II, the prisoners of the Flossenbürg camp were subjected to tickling as a means of punishment. Japan and Europe have even employed tickle torture, which is far more painful and cruel than you may expect.

The victim’s feet were bathed in salt/sugar solution and licked by a goat in European History.

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