Laughing makes your brain work better, new study finds

Samica Knight and Sharron Melton get a good laugh out of one of Don Nelson's jokes.
April 21, 2014 6:11:30 AM PDT
Ever have trouble remembering where you just left your keys? Just laugh it off. New research suggests that humor can improve short-term memory in older adults.

In a recent small study conducted at Loma Linda University in Southern California, 20 normal, healthy, older adults watched a funny video distraction-free for 20 minutes, while a control group sat calmly with no video. Afterwards, they performed memory tests and had saliva samples analyzed for stress hormones.

You guessed it; those who got to laugh the 20 minutes away with the funny video scored better on short-term memory tests, researchers said. And salivary levels of the stress hormone cortisol -- a memory enemy of sorts -- were significantly decreased in the humor group.

"Learning ability and delayed recall become more challenging as we age," said study author Dr. Gurinder S. Bains, a Ph.D. candidate in Rehabilitation Sciences. "Laughing with friends or even watching 20 minutes of humor on TV, as I do daily, helps me cope with my daily stressors."

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