2002 Volume 21 Issue 3 Pages 159-165
We investigated the effects of laughing and weeping induced by watching comedy and tragedy videos on mood and autonomic nervous function. Ten healthy female subjects volunteered for the experiment. Chest electrocardiogram and respiration curve were recorded before, after, and during watching a comedy or a tragedy video. We also asked them to fill out profiles of mood states (POMS) to evaluate their mood states while watching videos. Autonomic nervous function was estimated by spectral analysis of heart rate variability (HRV). All subjects more or less laughed and wept while watching comedy and tragedy videos, respectively. Anger-hostility score of the POMS decreased and vigor score increased significantly after watching comedy videos, while depression-dejection score increased significantly after watching tragedy ones. Although both contents tended to increase a low to high frequency component ratio (LF/HF ratio) of HRV, the time course of responses was different. The LF/HF ratio which reflects cardiac sympathovagal balance increased immediately after they started watching comedy videos, and returned to the basal level right after they stopped watching, whereas the LF/HF ratio increased gradually to a lesser extent while watching tragedy videos. In contrast, the high-frequency component which reflects cardiac parasympathetic nerve activity gradually decreased while watching both videos but did not return to the basal level after watching tragedy ones. These results suggest that laughing has strong but transient effects on the autonomic nervous system, while weeping or feeling sad has moderate but sustained effects on it.