The Next 100 Things You Need To Know About People: #107 — Laughter Helps Us Learn

Toddler smilingLet’s say you decide to let your 18-month-old daughter play some learning games on your tablet. You have a couple of apps you’ve downloaded and you’re trying to decide which one to give to her: The one that introduces number and letter concepts with music but is pretty serious? Or the one that makes her laugh with the silly animals that keep popping up and running around the screen?

Since you’re not sure that “screen time” is a good thing for young children, you choose the serious one. At least she’ll learn, you think.

Actually, the one that makes her laugh is the better decision.

Rana Esseily (2015) conducted research on babies as young 18 months old. There are many research studies that show that when children laugh, it enhances their attention, motivation, perception, memory, and learning. But this study was the first to try out the idea on children as young as 18 months old.

The children in the group who did a task in a way that made them laugh learned the target actions more than those in the control group who were not laughing during the learning period.Esseily hypothesizes that laughter may help with learning because dopamine released while laughing enhances learning. Other research points to the idea that it works on adults too!

Here’s the research:

Esseily, Rana, L. Rat-Fischer, E. Somogyi, K. O’Regan, and J. Fagard. 2015. “Humour production may enhance observational learning of a new tool-use action in 18-month-old infants.” Cognition and Emotion, 1-9 DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2015.1036840

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