Tickling someone is fun, and it can be fun to tickled (sometimes). So this means that ticklish people are more fun, right?
Darwin thought so. He thought comedy and tickling both "tickled the mind." Humorous people laugh because of funny jokes and because someone tickles them. Sounds like a fun person to me.
This year some Swiss researchers actually showed Darwin was wrong. The Swiss discovered, after a few brain scans, that humour and ticklish giggles are actually quite different.
Tickling does cause some of the same regions of the brain to light up as a good joke, but tickling also lights up the hypothalamus. This region regulates a lot of instinctive functions (body temp., hunger etc.). It also activates the anticipation of pain areas of the brain.
These extra areas of activation explain why people act like they are under attack when they are being tickled, and why you might have been kicked or punched when tickling someone. It also begins to explain how being tickled can be painful and make you laugh at the same time.
Tickling, even with all its mixed feelings, does put us in a fun mood. Two researchers from California tickled people before and after a comedy. These tickled individuals were more likely to laugh than people not tickled before the comedy. Not only that, they also laughed more after the comedy when they were tickled. Looks like tickling gets you in the mood for more tickling.
A ticklish person may not be more fun, but tickling does seem to put us in the mood for fun.
By Dr. Syras Derksen