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Laughter improves brain work, good for short-term memory

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Latest study shows that laughing can make short-term memory better in older adults, linking laughter to delaying and preventing cognitive decline and dementia.

A team from Loma Linda University in California conducted a study on 20 healthy and normal older adults and found that those who watched a 20-minute distraction-free funny video scored better on short-term memory tests than those who just waited calmly and did not watch any video. The control group had saliva samples analysed for the stress hormone, cortisol. The research found that those who laughed for 20 minutes lowered their blood pressure and decreased their level of cortisol, which is connected to stress.

"Learning ability and delayed recall become more challenging as we age," study author Dr. Gurinder S. Bains, a Ph.D. candidate in Rehabilitation Sciences said. "Laughing with friends or even watching 20 minutes of humor on TV, as I do daily, helps me cope with my daily stressors. Begin by laughing more daily, it will improve your quality of life."

Dr. Lee Bark, a co-author of the research and associate professor from the University explained that laughing releases more endorphins that send dopamine to the brain, which in effect would feel more reward and pleasure, improving the body's immune system and brain wave motion. The study was very small with only 20 participants and further research is needed to make the findings more conclusive.

The research suggests that the less stress a person has, the better his memory would be. As humor reduces cortisol, it increases the mood state that is conducive to learning. As endorphins provide reward and pleasure, the immune system works better and improves brain wave activity to "gamma frequency," which is an amped recall and memory.

Multi-Health Systems said, stress decreases the emotional intelligence of a person in that it affects decision-making, becoming too impulsive and prone to mistakes. Stress also causes the person to ignore cues, lower productivity and find it difficult to connect with colleagues and clients. Cortisol reportedly has negative effects such as heart disease, weight gain, depression and mental illness.

As per Dr. Steven Stein of Multi-Health Systems, "A strong emotional intelligence can help build positive relationships with colleagues and improve performance - the ideal formula for workplace success. But if stress prevents us from being aware of and controlling our emotions, getting along with others, adapting to changes, and maintaining a positive mood, then our EI is going to suffer. In fact, it has been scientifically demonstrated that emotional intelligence is actually more important in predicting success in the workplace than IQ (cognitive intelligence)."

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