eli5: Why do laughter and sobbing with grief appear to be so physically similar, even though they’re caused by such different emotions?

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eli5: Why do laughter and sobbing with grief appear to be so physically similar, even though they’re caused by such different emotions?

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Laughter is originally a reaction to an incoming threat which turned out to be harmless or fake. Crying (sobbing) is for the real threats. Imagine a parent making some sort of angry face at a toddler – if they keep it angry/scary, the toddler would start crying in fear, but if they only keep it for a second and then smile, showing that it was a joke, the toddler would laugh.

It’s believed that the same area of the brain processes both pain and pleasure, and it’s likely to produce some of the same chemicals in the brain. So it is quite literally a response that is physically similar when we laugh and cry.