Gurinder Singh Bains of Loma Linda University and colleagues showed a 20-minute laugh-inducing funny video to a group of healthy elderly individuals and a group of elderly people with diabetes.
Both groups were asked to complete a memory assessment that measured their learning, recall and sight recognition, while a control group completed the same tasks without seeing the video. Cortisol was measured at the beginning and end of the experiment.
The study, presented at the Experimental Biology annual meeting in San Diego, found a significant decrease in cortisol concentrations among both groups who watched the funny video. In addition, those watched the video showed greater improvement in all areas of the memory assessment when compared to the controls, but the diabetic group had the most dramatic benefit in cortisol level changes.
"Our research findings offer potential clinical and rehabilitative benefits that can be applied to wellness programs for the elderly,” Bains said in a statement. “The cognitive components -- learning ability and delayed recall -- become more challenging as we age and are essential to older adults for an improved quality of life: mind, body, and spirit. Although older adults have age-related memory deficits, complimentary, enjoyable, and beneficial humor therapies need to be implemented for these individual."
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