Laughter is good for your brain, researchers say

By Jesef Williams, UF Health Jacksonville • Published: July 14th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Seek out those hilarious memes on Facebook and watch more stand-up comedy. Apparently, the health benefits are robust.

Researchers at Loma Linda University in California recently presented information from a study that suggests the more you laugh, the better you feel mentally.

The study, presented in late April, included 31 people who had their brain waves monitored while watching humorous, spiritual and distressing videos. During the humorous videos, the participants’ brains had high levels of gamma waves, which are also shown to be produced while meditating.

Those waves are linked to increased levels of dopamine — a neurotransmitter that is responsible for our mood, attention and happiness.

The spiritual videos resulted in higher levels of alpha brain waves, similar to when a person is at rest. The distressing videos yielded flat brain wave bands, similar to how someone feels when he or she wants to leave an unpleasant situation.

The lead researcher of the study explained that laughter sustains gamma waves, and that gamma is the only frequency found in every part of the brain.

Basically, when you laugh, it’s as if the brain is getting a workout. Laughter allows a person to think more clearly, organize thoughts better and simply feel whole.

For years, research has shown that laughter improves circulation, increases respiration and lowers blood pressure. These effects are similar to what’s experienced during moderate exercise.

However, the researchers at Loma Linda say this recent data should be treated as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Even though the study has yet to be published, it appears to be more evidence that perhaps laugher is indeed the best medicine.