Learning! Why We Cry

Photo by Jenn and Tony Bot from Flickr Creative Commons.


I don't know about you, but I cry ALL THE TIME.  It's kind of embarrassing how easily I cry.  Back when I watched TV with commercials, I would tear up over pretty much any emotional commercial, even the most obviously sentimental and manipulative ones.  Watching TV, movies, and plays I cry when the characters cry, but also when people band together to support a cause or person, when a dream comes true, when someone says "I love you", has an unexpected success, gets a cute new pet, holds hands for the first time, or any other myriad of experiences.  Basically, any strong emotion comes out of my eyes in water-form.

So naturally, I am intrigued by this article in The Independent on the science of tears.  It's worth reading in its entirety, but here are some highlights:

We have three types of tears: basal, reflexive, and psychic.  Basal tears are pure function and keep our eyeballs from drying out.  Reflexive tears are also about function: they help flush foreign particles out of our eyes.  Then there's the psychic tears.  Also known as FEELINGS.

Psychic tears happen when our emotions get ahold of our brains and trigger our autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that can make your tears activate.

The other things that happen when we cry (sweats, slowed breathing, the lump in the throat) are a result of the sympathetic nervous system that also revs up in response to our emotions.

There's more!  Read it here.

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