Laughter defends against age-related brain damage
Having a laugh may do more than temporarily lift your spirits; it may also protect your brain against age-related damage.
A new Loma Linda University study found that showing seniors a 20-minute funny video not only decreased amounts of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood, but also increased their ability to remember and learn new information. While presenting his team’s findings at the recent Experimental Biology meeting in San Francisco, study author Lee Berk, DrPH, says their conclusions highlight the connection between stress and memory, as well as the benefits of humor for aging adults.
Long-term exposure to high levels of cortisol can have a deleterious effect on the brain. People who experience prolonged periods of stress show shrinkage in the hippocampus (which is essential for memory formation and function) and the prefrontal cortex (which aids in problem-solving, glucose metabolism and control of impulse behaviors).
Research has shown that lowering one’s cortisol levels can also enhance immune system functioning, decrease inflammation, lower blood pressure and result in better weight management, regardless of a person’s age.
Beyond laughter, other ways to reduce the amount of stress-induced chemicals in your body include, mindfulness meditation, exercise, listening to music and maintaining connections with close friends and family.
Care2 Greenliving AgingCare.com April 29, 2014