Recent research reveals that one of the best ways to stop memory loss is laughter. In fact, laughing may go one step further and actually improve a person’s memory.
According to a report by ABC News, a group of scientists from California’s Loma Linda University tested 40 people on the effects of laughter. They were divided into two groups. They asked one group of 20 to watch a funny film that lasted about 20 minutes and told the second to calmly wait until the other group was done.
When the movie was over, the two groups were given memory tests. Saliva samples were also taken from each person, and they were tested for the stress hormone cortisol, as stress can have a negative impact on memory.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol — often called a steroid hormone — is produced by the adrenal gland when a person is under stress. Cortisol increases blood sugar, aids with the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and protein and oddly reduces the immune system and even bone formation. During short-term emergencies, Cortisol provides an immediate source energy and even develops new energy sources found in our fat. Cortisol also seems to divert energy away from less essential areas — in the short-term — such as bone development and the immune system. Prolonged periods of stress or anxiety can potentially damage the body.
The test results
The test results showed the immediate positive results of laughter. People who saw the video did much better on the memory test than the other group. The cortisol levels for the laughing group were also “much lower.”
In an interview with ABC News, Gurinder Bains, the group’s lead author, said:
“Learning ability and delayed recall become more challenging as we age. Laughing with friends or even watching 20 minutes of humor on TV, as I do daily, helps me cope with my daily stressors.”
Laughter increases a person’s endorphin levels, which results in a release of dopamine creating a sense of well-being and happiness. When a person laughs, the body also seems to interpret this as a sign the stressful situations demanding cortisol are over.
Laughter, good like a medicine
The Bible, which is God’s owner’s manual for the human body, talks about the importance of laughter and joy — going as far as even calling it a medicine:
A joyful heart is good medicine,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22 NASV)
The NASV footnotes the word to mean “causes good healing.”
The word medicine “geha” is interesting word. It means cure or healing, but it is derived from the word “gaha” which means to be set free from “guilt, pain or disease.” So it refers to both a physical and emotional cure.
- Could laughter be the best way of improving memory? Older people had better short-term recall after watching comedy: Daily Mail
- Laughing Makes Your Brain Work Better, New Study Finds: ABC News