For rats and humans, ticklish is a state of mind

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Scientists think tickling and laughter have a social role — in humans and in other animals, including rats. And just like you or me, rats have to be in the right mood to enjoy that.

Rats laugh when they're tickled, and being tickled can even make them more optimistic. Now researchers have figured out how their brains process those sensations.

SEE MORE: Bad Memories Turn Good In Weird Mouse Brain Study

They found this tickle-happiness connection seems to go through the region responsible for touch — and depending on how active that part of the brain is, it can affect how ticklish the rats are.

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NTP: Training rats to sniff out land mines
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NTP: Training rats to sniff out land mines
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A rat searches for land mines and unexploded ordnance during a training session on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasability of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: Handlers train rats to detect different types of mines and unexploded ordnance on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasibility of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A handler puts a leash on a mine detection rat before a training session on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasability of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A rat searches for land mines and unexploded ordnance during a training session on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasability of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A rat climbs on a handler's leg after finishing the morning's training on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasability of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A mine detection rat is given banana as a reward after successfully detecting a mine on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasibility of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A rat searches for land mines and unexploded ordnance during a training session on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasibility of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A small leash is attached to a mine detection rat before a training session on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasability of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A mine detection rat is given banana as a reward after successfully identifying an inactive mine on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasability of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A deactivated, Chinese-made, anti-personnel mine is one of many types used to train the rats on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasability of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A handler carries a mine detection rat to a cool, shaded area after finishing training on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasability of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: Tape measures are used to identify where the rat has indicated during a training session on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasibility of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A handler brings a mine detection rat to a shaded area after a training session on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasibility of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A handler carries a rat to an enclosure on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasability of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A mine detection rat looks out of it's cage before training begins on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasibility of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A rat searches for land mines and unexploded ordnance during a training session on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasability of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - JULY 02: A mine detection rat searches as its handler looks on on July 2, 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) working with the Belgian NGO APOPO has recently begun testing the feasibility of using large mine detection rats from Tanzania to help clear fields of mines and unexploded ordnance in one of the most bombed and mined countries in the world. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
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Tickling fired it up so much that rats jumped for joy after humans played with them. Jolting this area with electricity made them laugh even when they weren't getting tickled. But putting them in stressful situations made that part of the brain quiet down — and they didn't respond as happily to being tickled.

One other interesting detail: When you tickle a human or a rat, both of their brains light up in the same spot.


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