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. Afterward, 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.
The act of laughter — or simply enjoying some humor — increases endorphins, sending dopamine to the brain to provide a sense of pleasure and reward, authors of the study say.
That, in turn, makes the immune system work better and changes brain wave activity toward what’s called a “gamma frequency,” amping up memory and recall.