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Rare Seizure Disorder Gives Clues About Brain's Laughter Center

SUNDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- A region of the brain known as the hypothalamus may be responsible for laughter, new research suggests.

Researchers from Stanford University and Barrow Neurological Institute studied 100 people with a rare disorder, gelastic epilepsy, which is characterized by laughing seizures.

The participants were placed into groups: those with laughing seizures only, those with laughing seizures as well as other types of seizures and those with additional symptoms of brain impairment and early puberty.

In all cases, those with gelastic epilepsy had a congenital brain lesion (called a hamartoma) in a specific region of the hypothalamus.

The study was scheduled to be presented Sunday at the American Epilepsy Society's annual meeting in Baltimore. Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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The U.S. Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides more information on the human brain.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: American Epilepsy Society, news release, Dec. 4, 2011

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