Laughter relieves stress, and maybe helps memory

This article originally appeared in the ICAA Research Review Newsletter, Vol. 14, No. 14

Stress can raise levels of the hormone cortisol, and cortisol has been shown to affect memory and learning ability among older adults. Laughter and humor are ways to relieve stress. A presentation at the Experimental Biology annual meeting reported that a group of healthy people, average age 70 years, and another group with diabetes, average age 67 years, watched a 20-minute humorous video.

FINDINGS: Cortisol levels decreased among those who watched the video, but not among those in the control group that did not watch the video. Results of before-and-after testing showed all groups improved in learning ability, delayed recall and visual recognition, although improvements were greater among those who watched the video.

COMMENT: “Our research findings offer potential clinical and rehabilitative benefits that can be applied to wellness programs for the elderly,” said Gurinder Singh Bains, MD, at Loma Linda University. “The cognitive components–learning ability and delayed recall–become more challenging as we age and are essential to older adults for an improved quality of life: mind, body and spirit. Although older adults have age-related memory deficits, complementary, enjoyable, and beneficial humor therapies need to be implemented for these individuals.”

SOURCE: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (April 27, 2014)

For the press release, click here