Evolution & Social Science Speaker Series

Monday, November 4, 2019 12:30pm

572 Life Science Center


Greg Bryant

Greg Bryant, UCLA, Communication

The evolution of human laughter

Laughter is a ubiquitous nonverbal affective vocal signal that manifests itself universally across cultures. Human laughter is homologous with play vocalizations across mammalian species, and likely retains this conserved play function. But laughter in humans has unique features as well, suggesting a suite of species-specific communicative functions assimilated with language use and sophisticated social cognition. In this talk I will describe several lines of research from my lab over the last decade exploring the psychoacoustics of laughter, cross-cultural universals and variations in laughter perception, and the role of laughter in everyday conversation. Laughter provides a unique window into human vocal signaling and cooperative behavior, as well as an example of how ancestral communicative behaviors become integrated with later evolving systems.