PSP Association

Smiles - question

Something I noticed a few times, just wondered whether anyone else also noticed this.

Hubby always took a little while to respond to questions, however, when hold a joke, he would immediately smile ( trying to laugh). It was a delight to see.

Strelley, is humour "recorded" in a different part of the brain than ordinary speach? Just wondered.


8 Replies

Hi Maddy

I do not think I have an adequate answer to your question, but I will make a couple of comments (hopefully not too technical).

The brain has different areas for processing language and speech. Researchers worked out there are 3 main regions that process laughter (cognitive, movement and pleasure). They say there is a laughter centre (in response to humour etc) close to the brain area controlling speech/language. Interestingly, they also say that different types of jokes are processed in different areas e.g. puns are processed in a different area to jokes like "Why don't cannibals eat clowns? Because they taste funny".

I rather think that in PSP the damage to the brain that causes the psuedobulbar affect (excessive or inappropriate laughing/crying) may override the problem of slow speaking (or not speaking). In which case, immediate laughter to humour may possibly occur.

My wife will give a spontaneous raucous laugh when she hears something mildly funny or a joke on TV. When she does this in a public place, onlookers are rather startled at the loudness (and tone) of the laughter (especially when she has been silent during conversations).

I try to make my wife laugh as much as possible, but I have learnt not to do it when I am feeding her. The food in her mouth is often projected across the room and I have rather a lot of cleaning up to do! This tends to make her laugh even more (and me a bit grumpy sometimes)!

Take care



hi T

a good reply as always fm you

i tend to CRY excessively rather than laugh unfortunately and mainly tears of frustration when i cannot do thignsfor myself any more or fall over when doing it;

and anger when my partner shouts at me and i cannot shout back at him as my voice is too weak to do so

so the laughter or smiles are great when they happen are they not however inappropriate they may seem at the time let them come fm your wife

how are you doing by the way and hwo si yrou wife?

lol jill



Hi Jill

Thanks for your post. I'm sorry that PSP is taking its toll on your life. The whole thing is totally frustrating for you and your partner. I'm also sorry your partner shouts at you sometimes, but many carers often get upset (and probably feel so guilty afterwards).

Thanks for asking about us. My wife is really struggling with soft slurred speech and I'm at a loss to know what she is trying to say. She cannot use any device like a "type and speak" computer apps because of her poor vision and lack of co-ordination with her hands/fingers. Using scrabble type letters is very slow, and using a pen laser to identify letters on a board has the same problems with unsteady hands. Amplifying her voice is of no value because it just amplifies the slurred unrecognisable speech.

One good item we're using is a "stand to sit" trolley for transfers - which works well as her arms and legs are still strong (but she has no balance). It is saving my back from aching!

All the best and take care



Hi Strelley

Many thanks for your explanation. I'm glad your wife has the ability of roucous laughter. So much is lost with PSP that anything that is still possible needs to be treasured. It's good to see that you are caring for her so well. I was fortunate to be able to be the sole carer until the end, lucky to have good health to do so.

Take care, maddy


In my husband's case, humour was one of the first things to go & part of his whole personality change. Not knowing for a long time what the route cause was, I often wondered who the person I lived with had turned into & why I was still putting up with it ! I guess in my heart of hearts I knew there had to be something fundamentally wrong, and began to assume it had to be a dementia of sorts. Humour is so important, and thankfully I'm blessed with such a caring family that I can still laugh with them at the circumstances we are in.


It is an interesting question, and I so appreciate Strelley's answer. It does seem to me, now that it's been mentioned, that the laughter does come more spontaneously to my sweetheart than speech, but also that when he is making a joke or snarky remark his language is clearer and faster. I actually love it when he feels inspired to needle me a bit. He can be so sharp! Communication is getting harder: he often has slurry speech and wandering thoughts I find hard to follow. We sometimes get to laughing hard about nothing but a silly phrase, but otherwise he is not now showing that excessive emotionalism. He had a very brief phase, scary at the time, when he would sob loudly and suddenly when touched by a movie. It really lasted only a few weeks. PSP does keep you guessing, doesn't it?

Peace and love to all, Easterncedar

1 like

My husband no longer understands words but somehow he sometimes still gets humor but sometimes not and just gets more confused. Up and down up and down ....seems to go with the territory,



hi all

laughter really si the best medicine!~

lol JILL




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