All humans are innately equipped with the ability to laugh. But for the longest time scientists have wondered how this behavior evolved. Unlike hunting, laughter is not learned, it is built into our system like sneezing.

A group of scientists in Spain, however, have come up with initial answers. They’re saying that the evolution of our laughter is closely linked with the human brain’s evolution, which is in itself a great mystery. There is a belief that our brains evolved about the same time that human communities evolved and enlarged.

A bigger group always leads to greater complexity and language and complex behaviors become a necessity. With the social brain hypothesis, it is believed that the human brain evolved in order to firmly establish bonds with other humans. In particular, the act of talking evolved in order for individuals within a group to bond. Laughter is merely an extension of talking.

Conversation in a large group can easily include ten people. Laughter is a method people use to tell other that they are part of the conversation. Because of laughter within a group, the individuals within it flourish.

While the social brain idea has been around for some time but it’s only now that certain behaviors are being analyzed under its framework.

Laughing is analogous to blushing. When you blush, the flood flow to the brain is channeled through the artery on the face. This outflow into the facial artery serves to relieve the excess flow of blood in certain situations. Laughter is similar to blushing in that it works a similar type of release. The momentum that builds up during conversations has to be relieved, either through talking some more or through laughter.

The idea of laughter coming from social situations may make sense to you but scientists actually still have to test this theory. Whether or not it can stand a battery of scientific tests still remains to be seen. However, there is no do doubt that because of laughter, people do become closer, with more than a few stressed falling on the way side because of it.

You might be surprised to know that laughter has evolved from a response-based behavior to a type of stress-releasing yoga. Laughter yoga, as it is called, can be practiced in small groups. Participants just look at each other and laugh.