A memory aid for seniors: Laughter - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

A memory aid for seniors: Laughter

Polka Dot / Thinkstock Polka Dot / Thinkstock

SUNDAY, April 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Humor and laughter may help combat memory loss in the elderly, a new study suggests.

Previous research has found that the stress hormone cortisol can harm memory and learning ability in older adults. This new study examined whether mirth might reduce the damage caused by cortisol.

Researchers showed a 20-minute humorous video to a group of healthy seniors and a group of seniors with diabetes. These groups were compared with a group of seniors who didn't see the video.

The two groups that watched the funny video showed significant decreases in cortisol levels and greater improvements on memory tests, compared to the group that didn't see the video. The diabetes group showed the largest decrease in cortisol levels, while the healthy group had the greatest improvement on memory tests.

The study was to be presented Sunday at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

"It's simple, the less stress you have, the better your memory," one of the study's authors, Lee Berk, said in a Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology news release. "Humor reduces detrimental stress hormones like cortisol that decreases memory [brain cells], lowers your blood pressure and increases blood flow and your mood state. 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.

"These positive and beneficial neurochemical changes, in turn, make the immune system function better," Berk added. "There are even changes in brain wave activity towards what's called the 'gamma wave band frequency', which also amp up memory and recall. So, indeed, laughter is turning out to be not only a good medicine, but also a memory enhancer adding to our quality of life."

The findings could be used in designing wellness programs for the elderly, according to study author Dr. Gurinder Singh Bains. Berk and Bains are both from Loma Linda University in Calif.

The study did not prove that humor offsets memory loss, it only found an association between the two.

More information

The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation explains how to keep mentally fit as you age.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
  • More From wfmj.comMore>>

  • 1 of 2 Ohio plane crash victims not yet identified

    1 of 2 Ohio plane crash victims not yet identified

    Monday, July 28 2014 9:48 PM EDT2014-07-29 01:48:43 GMT
    FINDLAY, Ohio (AP) - Authorities in northwest Ohio are still trying to identify one of two people killed in a weekend plane crash. One of the victims in the crash near Findlay was the CEO of an Ohio manufacturing company. A coroner was trying to identify the remains of a woman killed in the crash, but the Hancock County Sheriff's Office says DNA testing may be needed. Deputies say Ralf Bronnenmeier, CEO of Grob Systems in Bluffton, was piloting the single-engine plane that crashed early Sund...More >>
    FINDLAY, Ohio (AP) - Authorities in northwest Ohio are still trying to identify one of two people killed in a weekend plane crash. One of the victims in the crash near Findlay was the CEO of an Ohio manufacturing company. A coroner was trying to identify the remains of a woman killed in the crash, but the Hancock County Sheriff's Office says DNA testing may be needed. Deputies say Ralf Bronnenmeier, CEO of Grob Systems in Bluffton, was piloting the single-engine plane that crashed early Sund...More >>
  • TSA finds gun, ammo in Pittsburgh airport carry-on

    TSA finds gun, ammo in Pittsburgh airport carry-on

    Monday, July 28 2014 9:35 PM EDT2014-07-29 01:35:49 GMT
    IMPERIAL, Pa. (AP) - The Transportation Security Administration says it found a pistol and ammunition in man's carry-on bag as he passed through security at Pittsburgh International Airport. TSA official tell the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the man wasn't allowed take the gun past security, and faces up to a $11,000 civil penalty for bringing the weapon to the checkpoint. But Allegheny County police say they don't plan to charge the man with a crime because he had a license to carry the ....More >>
    IMPERIAL, Pa. (AP) - The Transportation Security Administration says it found a pistol and ammunition in man's carry-on bag as he passed through security at Pittsburgh International Airport. TSA official tell the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the man wasn't allowed take the gun past security, and faces up to a $11,000 civil penalty for bringing the weapon to the checkpoint. But Allegheny County police say they don't plan to charge the man with a crime because he had a license to carry the ....More >>
  • 5 Pa. reps ask NCAA to halt Penn State sanctions

    5 Pa. reps ask NCAA to halt Penn State sanctions

    Monday, July 28 2014 9:29 PM EDT2014-07-29 01:29:22 GMT
    Five Pennsylvania congressmen are asking college sports' governing body to cancel penalties against Penn State imposed as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.More >>
    Five Pennsylvania congressmen are asking college sports' governing body to cancel penalties against Penn State imposed as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
    More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms