Humor Associated Laughter Produces Brain Waves Similar to Those Who Achieve a ‘True State of Meditation,’ Says Loma Linda University Health Study

The study, to be presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 conference meetings in San Diego on April 27, suggests that Humor Associated with Mirthful Laughter (HAML) is gaining increasing attention as a non-pharmacological lifestyle intervention that integrates mind and body to promote greater wholeness, health, and wellness.

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San Diego, Calif. (PRWEB) April 27, 2014

Joyful or mirthful laughter produces brain wave frequencies similar to those seen among people who reach what is considered the desired “true state of meditation,” according to a new study from Loma Linda University Health.

The study, to be presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 conference meetings in San Diego on April 27, suggests that Humor Associated with Mirthful Laughter (HAML) is gaining increasing attention as a non-pharmacological lifestyle intervention that integrates mind and body to promote greater wholeness, health, and wellness, and offers therapeutic value for alleviating symptoms from a variety of chronic medical conditions.

Researchers measured brain wave activity from nine cerebral cortex scalp areas of subjects’ brains using an electroencephalograph (EEG), which measures brain waves of different frequencies within the brain.

“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. 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’,” said Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, principal investigator of the study and associate professor School of Allied Health Professions and associate research professor, pathology and human anatomy, School of Medicine, at Loma Linda University.

“When there is mirthful laughter, it’s as if the brain gets a workout because the gamma wave band is in synch with multiple other areas that are in the same 30-40 hertz frequency. This allows for the subjective feeling states of being able to think more clearly and have more integrative thoughts. This is of great value to individuals who need or want to revisit, reorganize, or rearrange various aspects of their lives or experiences, to make them feel whole or more focused,” Berk said.

Subjects who engage in joyful laughter produce substantial brain gamma wave band frequencies (30 to 40 Hz), which, according to other published research, are now known to be similar to those experienced by people who meditate and reach a state of contentment and happiness, the study said.

Brain EEG data from 31 subjects were used for the study. At predetermined intervals, the subjects were randomly asked to watch a 10-minute video clip that were humorous, distressful, or spiritual in nature, while connected to an EEG monitor called the B-Alert 10X System, that measures and records the power spectral density (uV2) of all brain wave frequencies from 1 to 40 Hz.

The brain wave measurements showed that when watching humorous videos, the brain produced significant levels of gamma waves – the same brain electrical impulses produced by someone who meditates.

Subsequent additional findings showed that, while watching spiritual videos, the subjects experienced significant levels of alpha brain wave bands, similar to those experienced when a person is at rest; and while watching distressful videos, subjects experienced flat brain wave bands across the board, similar to those experienced by people who feel detached, non-responsive, or would rather not be in the situation.

“Laughter may not only be a good medicine for the health of your body but also a good medicine for your brain,” Berk said.

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About Loma Linda University Health (LLUH)
Loma Linda University Health includes Loma Linda University's eight professional schools, Loma Linda University Medical Center's six hospitals and more than 800 faculty physicians located in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Established in 1905, LLUH is a global leader in education, research and clinical care. It offers over 100 academic programs and provides quality health care to 40,000 inpatients and 1.5 million outpatients each year. A Seventh-day Adventist organization, LLUH is a faith-based health system with a mission "to continue the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ."

CONTACT: Herbert Atienza, Loma Linda University Health, 909-558-8419, hatienza(at)llu(dot)edu