Laughter: Good for Your Brain Health



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

Laughter: Good for Your Brain HealthWhen 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.

  • Laughter: Good for Your Brain HealthLaugh 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.

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Dated 16 May  2014
 

 


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