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Thursday, 27 September, 2001, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Mysteries of laughter revealed
Women laughing
Women are more likely to laugh in song-like bursts
Scientists in America claim to have uncovered the secrets of laughter.

More than a thousand "bursts" of laughter from 97 different people were analysed by a team from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Their study found that women were more likely to laugh "in song" while men tended to "grunt or snort".

Laughter from the men and women taking part in the experiment was secretly taped as they watched extracts from funny films such as the "bring out your dead" sketch from Monty Python and the fake orgasm scene from the film "When Harry met Sally".

Giggles and chuckles

Jo-Anne Bacharowski, who led the research, said: "One of the biggest surprises was the variety of sounds that constitute laughter."

She said the study revealed that "voiced" or song-like laughter came in the form of giggles and chuckles and was most likely to be produced by women.

"Unvoiced" laughter, on the other hand, was composed of grunts and snorts and more associated with men.

The experiment, detailed in the New Scientist magazine, also looked at the vowel sounds in laughter and found that stereo-typical laughter sounds such as "ho, ho, ho" and "tee, hee, hee" were inaccurate.

Ms Bacharowski said although the subjects of the study were American she expected the findings to apply in other cultures.

See also:

07 May 99 | Health
Only when I laugh
03 Sep 99 | Health
Laugh till you drop
01 May 98 | Sci/Tech
Rats 'like a laugh'
15 Nov 00 | Health
Laughter 'protects the heart'
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