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Saint Helena Virtual Forum

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Sasha Winkler

Biological Anthropology

University of California, Los Angeles

Sasha Winkler is a PhD candidate at UCLA and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Her background is in primatology and she holds an MA in Biological Anthropology from UCLA. She researches social behavior in primates, with a focus on the evolution of play, vocal communication, and learning. Her current research focuses on the cognitive effects of laughter in humans and bonobos. Sasha has a degree in linguistics and cognitive science from Pomona College.

Sasha was interviewed by Saint Helena Forum Chair, Douglas Barr.

Chimps do it. Cows do it. Dogs and cats and rats do it. Whales do it. Birds do it. Even you and I do it.  Why do it?  Why do we laugh?

Across many animals, complex social play is well-documented and laughter (scientists use the term play vocalizations), has been reported in sixty-five species. But seriously, why are we all laughing and what is so darn funny?

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