Laughter: Good for Your Brain Health
According to new research out of the Loma Linda University in Southern
California, making a concerted effort to make laughter a
part of your daily routine -- is an easy and medicine-free method for reducing the stress hormone
cortisol, boosting brain health and keeping mental levels sharp. As pointed out
by researchers a figure for the optimal laugh is 30-40 hertz, the same brain
wave frequency seen among people who reach what’s considered the “true state of meditation.”
Laughter is the best medicine for the body, and this holds true for the brain,
too. Unlike emotional responses, which are limited to specific areas of the
brain, laughter engages multiple regions across the whole brain.
Furthermore, listening to jokes and working out punch lines activates areas of
the brain vital to learning and creativity. As psychologist Daniel Goleman notes
in his book Emotional Intelligence, “laughter…seems to help people think more
broadly and associate more freely.”
The participants (who saw a funny 20-minute video) scored higher
scores on memory tests compared to the control group which wasn’t shown
the video. Likewise, researchers found a significant decrease in
cortisol levels among video-watchers.
Laughter & the Brain
When the pattern of brainwave activity was traced in subjects responding to
humorous material. Subjects were hooked up to an electroencephalograph (EEG) and
their brain activity was measured when they laughed. In each case, the brain
produced a regular electrical pattern. Within four-tenths of a second of
exposure to something potentially funny, an electrical wave moved through the
cerebral cortex, the largest part of the brain. If the wave took a negative
charge, laughter resulted. If it maintained a positive charge, no response was
given, researchers said.
During the experiment, researchers observed the following specific activities:
The left side of the cortex (the layer of cells that covers the entire
surface of the forebrain) analyzed the words and structure of the joke.
The brain's large frontal lobe, which is involved in social emotional
responses, became very active.
The right hemisphere of the cortex carried out the intellectual analysis
required to "get" the joke.
Brainwave activity then spread to the sensory processing area of the
occipital lobe (the area on the back of the head that contains the cells
that process visual signals).
Stimulation of the motor sections evoked physical responses to the joke.
Building on Laughter
Basics to bring more laughter in your life.
Laugh at yourself. Share
your embarrassing moments. The best way to take ourselves less seriously is
to talk about the times when we took ourselves too seriously.
When you hear laughter, move toward it. Most of the time, people
are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity
to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear
laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
Spend time with fun, playful people. These
are people who laugh easily—both at themselves and at life’s absurdities—and
who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view
and laughter are contagious.
Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on
your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a
computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your
family or friends having fun.
Emulate Your Kids. They are the experts on playing, taking life
lightly, and laughing.
Make a concerted effort to make laughter a part of your daily routine, either by
sharing a good chuckle with family and friends over a joke, or watching a funny
video or comedy.
Dated 16 May 2014