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Cortex. 2015 Oct;71:323-31. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2015.07.024. Epub 2015 Aug 1.

Mirth and laughter elicited by electrical stimulation of the human anterior cingulate cortex.

Author information

1
Brain Center for Social and Motor Cognition, Italian Institute of Technology, Parma, Italy; Department of Neuroscience, University of Parma, Parma, Italy. Electronic address: fausto.caruana@unipr.it.
2
Department of Neuroscience, University of Parma, Parma, Italy; Department of Biomedical, Metabolism, and Neural Science, NOCSAE Hospital, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.
3
Claudio Munari Center for Epilepsy Surgery, Ospedale Niguarda-Ca' Granda, Milan, Italy.
4
Brain Center for Social and Motor Cognition, Italian Institute of Technology, Parma, Italy; Department of Neuroscience, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Abstract

Laughter is a complex motor behavior that, typically, expresses mirth. Despite its fundamental role in social life, knowledge about the neural basis of laughter is very limited and mostly based on a few electrical stimulation (ES) studies carried out in epileptic patients. In these studies laughter was elicited from temporal areas where it was accompanied by mirth and from frontal areas plus an anterior cingulate case where laughter without mirth was observed. On the basis of these findings, it has been proposed a dichotomy between temporal lobe areas processing the emotional content of laughter and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and motor areas responsible of laughter production. The present study is aimed to understand the role of ACC in laughter. We report the effects of stimulation of 10 rostral, pregenual ACC (pACC) patients in which the ES elicited laughter. In half of the patients ES elicited a clear burst of laughter with mirth, while in the other half mirth was not evident. This large dataset allow us to offer a more reliable picture of the functional contribute of this region in laughter, and to precisely localize it in the cingulate cortex. We conclude that the pACC is involved in both the motor and the affective components of emotions, and challenge the validity of a sharp dichotomy between motor and emotional centers for laughing. Finally, we suggest a possible anatomical network for the production of positive emotional expressions.

KEYWORDS:

Cingulate cortex; Emotional expression; Facial expression; Pregenual ACC; Smile

PMID:
26291664
DOI:
10.1016/j.cortex.2015.07.024
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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