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Laughter has Similar Effects as Meditation on the Brain

Update Date: Apr 28, 2014 01:44 PM EDT

Meditation is a practice that involves training the mind to get rid of stress and distractions in order to boost relaxation. Meditation has been linked to improving mental state, which can potentially benefit physical and mental health. Even though meditation is relatively simple to do, not every one has the time or patience. Now, according to a new study, instead of meditating, people can use laughter to yield similar results. The researchers reported that laughter triggers brain waves in the same way that meditation does.

For this study, the researchers headed by Lee Berk, an associate professor in the School of Allied Health Professions, and an associate research professor of pathology and human anatomy in the School of Medicine, at Loma Linda University, in California, recruited 31 participants to watch three different types of video clips, which were funny, spiritual or distressing. While the participants were watching the videos, the researchers were monitoring brain waves.

The researchers found that when the clip was humorous, people had higher levels of gamma waves, which are the same waves that are present when people meditate. During spiritual clips, there was a higher level of alpha brain waves, which are also present when people are at rest. In the last set of video clips, the researchers found that people had flat brain wave bands, which also occurs when people feel detached or nonresponsive typically in a situation that they do not want to be a part of.

"What we have found in our study is that humor associated with mirthful laughter sustains high-amplitude gamma-band oscillations. Gamma is the only frequency found in every part of the brain," Berk said reported by Medical Xpress. "What this means is that humor actually engages the entire brain-it is a whole brain experience with the gamma wave band frequency and humor, similar to meditation, holds it there; we call this being 'in the zone.'"

The findings were presented at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego, CA.

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