The saying is true when it comes to treating age-related memory loss. A new study finds that humor may reduce brain damage caused by the stress hormone cortisol and improve memory.
Stress hormones cause damage to the brain
Too much stress can have a negative impact on health. Stress can worsen memory and learning ability in elderly individuals. This is due to cortisol, the stress hormone. This hormone is known to cause damage to the brain. For this study, researchers wanted to know if laughter could be stress reliever and what kind of impact that might have on the brain.
Watching a funny video to test hormone and memory levels
Two groups of older people were formed, one with diabetes and another who were healthy. Both groups watched a 20 minute humorous video and then completed a memory test. A third group was asked to participate in the memory test, but not shown the video. Cortisol levels were recorded before and after for all three groups. When the viewing and testing were over, researchers found that the two groups who watched the video had lower cortisol levels than the group that didn’t get to see the funny. They also had improved memory recall. The diabetic group showed the greatest improvement.
Increasing endorphins and dopamine naturally
“Humor reduces detrimental stress hormones like cortisol that decrease memory hippocampal neuron, lowers your blood pressure, and increases blood flow and your mood state,” explained co-author Dr. Lee Burk of Loma Linda University in California. “The act of laughter – or simply enjoying some humor – increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in the brain, which provides a sense of pleasure and reward.”
“So, indeed laughter is turning out to be not only a good medicine, but also a memory enhancer adding to our quality of life.”
Source: Honor Whiteman/MedicalNewsToday, Loma Linda University