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Funny Moments Counter Memory Loss

Posted Jun 09 2014 10:07pm

Previously, studies suggest that cortisol – the stress hormone, can damage memory and learning as we age.  Lee Berk, from Loma Linda University (California, USA), and colleagues showed a 20-minute humorous video to a group of healthy seniors, as well as a group of seniors with diabetes. These groups were compared with a group of seniors who didn't see the video.  The two groups that watched the funny video showed significant decreases in cortisol levels and greater improvements on memory tests, compared to the group that didn't see the video. The diabetes group showed the largest decrease in cortisol levels, while the healthy group had the greatest improvement on memory tests.  The study authors propose that: “[humor and laughter] may be another non-pharmacological lifestyle intervention to provide health, wellness & adjunctive therapeutic benefits.”

Lee Berk, Clarice Alphonso, Neha Thakker, Bruce Nelson.  “Humor similar to meditation enhances EEG power spectral density of gamma wave band activity (31-40Hz) and synchrony (684.5).”  FASEB J., April 2014;28:684.5.

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