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Why laughing is healthy
April 28th, 2014
09:57 AM ET

Why laughing is healthy

Can watching a funny cat video at work actually improve your productivity?

Maybe!

A study presented at this year's annual Experimental Biology conference finds that when people laugh, their brains are activated in the same way as when people are mindfully meditating.

The study, from researchers at Loma Linda University, measured the brain activity of 31 people when they watched a funny video and again when they watched a stressful video. Researchers measured activity in nine parts of the brain. What they noted was that during the funny videos, the viewers actually activated their entire brains, with high gamma wave activity, as measured by electroencephalography, or EEG.

EEG measures electrical activity along the scalp. “The electrical activity translates to neuroactivity,” said the lead researcher, Dr. Lee Berk. Gamma wave activity is associated with increased dopamine levels and putting the brain’s cognitive state at its most alert level.

Berk explained, “What we know is that gamma is found in every part of the brain and that it helps generate recall and reorganization.” That’s why, he said, after people meditate, they feel refreshed and are better positioned to solve problems.

Not only can laughing help increase your awareness, Berk thinks it is likely to have the health benefits of meditation, like reducing stress, blood pressure and pain.

Berk acknowledges that more research is needed about how laughing can actually benefit our health, but he is optimistic about an area of science that shows real correlation between the mind and body. “We are looking at the keyhole in the door – and the light is bright on the other side," he said.

The bottom line, he says: "Humor is evidenced to have a therapeutic value.”

So next time your boss catches you watching a funny cat video, just tell her that you’re trying to be more productive.


soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. DJ

    If we all couldn't laugh we would all go insane.

    April 28, 2014 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Thugvon

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    April 28, 2014 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. spaceman101

    Buffett.......

    April 29, 2014 at 00:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. mountainlady5281

    You now what really makes my day? Comments made by Sarah Palin are always worth a good laugh. And then there are Nevada ranchers......hee hee.

    April 29, 2014 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Tyrone

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ________
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    April 29, 2014 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Artemis MA

    Laughing at work (or elsewhere) IS healthy... Just don't get caught watching those cat videos at work, though... Might not be so healthy in other regards.

    April 29, 2014 at 21:34 | Report abuse | Reply
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  9. counselorinsite

    In cognitive behavior therapy and in REBT, humor, correctly used, is actually considered a technique. sometimes clinicians need to point out the absurdity or irrational thoughts. If done with humor and respect it can produce results and affect change.

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  11. Alexander Lamas Miami

    A study presented at this year's annual Experimental Biology conference finds that when people laugh, their brains are activated in the same way as when people are mindfully meditating.

    The study, from researchers at Loma Linda University, measured the brain activity of 31 people when they watched a funny video and again when they watched a stressful video. Researchers measured activity in nine parts of the brain. What they noted was that during the funny videos, the viewers actually activated their entire brains, with high gamma wave activity, as measured by electroencephalography, or EEG.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.