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Laughter may be the very best medicine for age-related memory loss

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/28/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Instant stress relief brought upon by laughter found to be beneficial -- for most things

Addressing age-related memory loss, it turns out that laughter may very well be the best medicine. A new study has found that humor may reduce brain damage caused by the "stress hormone" cortisol, which in turn, improves memory.

As laughter often relieves stress, the research team wanted to determine whether humor may reduce brain damage caused by cortisol.

As laughter often relieves stress, the research team wanted to determine whether humor may reduce brain damage caused by cortisol.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/28/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Laughter, memory loss, cortisol, stress


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The research team, led by Dr. Gurinder Singh Bains from Loma Linda University in California recently presented their findings at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego.

It's a given that too much stress can negatively impact health. Stress may worsen allergies, while other research indicates that it makes the brain more susceptible to mental illness, according to a recent study. 

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Past research has also shown that stress can worsen memory and learning ability in elderly individuals as stress increases the production of cortisol, a hormone that can cause damage to neurons in the brain.

As laughter often relieves stress, the research team wanted to determine whether humor may reduce brain damage caused by cortisol.

The researchers analyzed one group of elderly individuals who had diabetes and another group of elderly people who were healthy.

Both groups were required to view a 20-minute humorous video, before completing a memory test that measured their visual recognition, learning ability and memory recall.

A third group of elderly individuals were asked to complete the memory test without watching the funny video. The team then compared the results of all three groups.

Both groups who watched the humorous video showed a significant reduction in cortisol levels, compared with the group that did not view the video.

The groups that watched the funny video also showed greater improvement in memory recall, learning ability and sight recognition, compared with those who did not watch the video.

The diabetic group also demonstrated the greatest improvement in both cortisol levels and memory test scores.

By extension, humor may be the key to reducing stress levels.

"Humor reduces detrimental stress hormones like cortisol that decrease memory hippocampal neurons, lowers your blood pressure, and increases blood flow and your mood state," Study co-author Dr. Lee Burk says. These findings suggests that the less stress a person has, the better their memory performance, he explains.

"The act of laughter - or simply enjoying some humor - increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in the brain, which provides a sense of pleasure and reward."

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