Laughter is increasingly present in biomedical literature, both in analytical neurological aspects and in applied therapeutic fields. The present paper, bridging between the analytical and the applied, explores the potential of a relevant variable of laughter’s acoustic signature—entropy—in the detection of a widespread mental disorder, depression, as well as in gauging the severity of its diagnostic. In laughter, the Shannon–Wiener entropy of the distribution of sound frequencies, which is one of the key features distinguishing its acoustic signal from the utterances of spoken language, has not been a specific focus of research yet, although the studies of human language and of animal communication have pointed out that entropy is a very important factor regarding the vocal/acoustic expression of emotions. As the experimental survey of laughter in depression herein undertaken shows, it was possible to discriminate between patients and controls with an 82.1% accuracy just by using laughter’s entropy and by applying the decision tree procedure. These experimental results, discussed in the light of the current research on laughter, point to the relevance of entropy in the spontaneous bona fide
extroversion of mental states toward other individuals, as the signal of laughter seems to imply. This is in line with recent theoretical approaches that rely on the optimization of a neuro-informational free energy (and associated entropy) as the main “stuff” of brain processing.
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