Laughter May Be Best Medicine for Age-Related Memory Loss
We all know how great it feels to have a good laugh, especially with friends whose company you enjoy. While it’s said “laughter is the best medicine,” there are actually scientific studies showing the mechanism of laughing does have positive health benefits to the body. In fact, a new study even shows it can play a role in preventing memory loss.
Laughing releases dopamine and endorphins in our brain, which are chemicals that induce pleasurable feelings. In an important new research study at Loma Linda University in California, the findings show that humor and laughter may play a role in reducing age-related memory loss. The main focus of the study was the hormone cortisol, which is released when the body experiences stress.
Stress has been proven to have a negative effect on both learning and memory and older adults are particularly susceptible to factors that cause memory loss. To determine if laughter as a stress reducer might lessen the damage cortisol does to the brain, the research team conducted the study with three groups of seniors, one with diabetes, one without a health issue, and a control group. Two of the test groups were shown a 20-minute humorous video and then given a memory test measuring memory recall, visual recognition, and learning ability. The third group of older adult participants did the test without first watching the video. The cortisol levels of all three group members were evaluated before and after the tests.
The results showed that both groups who had seen the video had a substantial reduction in their cortisol levels when compared to the control group. In addition, the test subjects who saw the video demonstrated more improvement in memory recall and learning ability than the group that didn’t watch the humorous video.
The study co-author Dr. Lee Berk, said “So, indeed, laughter is turning out to be not only a good medicine, but also a memory enhancer adding to our quality of life.”
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