Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Expecting a laugh boosts stress-busting hormones

07.11.2002


Study finds expectation of humor has a biological effect on body



Go ahead, laugh. In fact, look forward to the upcoming positive event. It does the body good.

Yes, even looking forward to a happy, funny event increases endorphins and other relaxation-inducing hormones as well as decreases other detrimental stress hormones, a UC Irvine College of Medicine-led study has found.


In previous studies, the scientists found that anticipating a funny video reduced feelings of stress. This study found that those feelings have biological underpinnings and may help researchers combat the harmful effects of stress. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Orlando, Florida.

Lee Berk, assistant professor of family medicine and a researcher at the Susan Samueli Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and his colleagues found that just anticipating a funny event reduced levels of stress-causing chemical messengers in the blood, and increased levels of chemicals known to reduce tension.

"Since chronic stress can suppress the immune system’s ability to fight disease, reducing the effects of stress can help the body resist infections and other disorders," Berk said. "This study shows that even knowing you will be involved in a positive humorous event days in advance reduces levels of stress hormones in the blood and increases levels of chemicals known to aid relaxation. This has profound implications for complementary treatment of disease and for maintaining a person’s wellness."

Berk and his colleagues tested 16 men at Loma Linda University. Half of them were informed three days in advance they would watch a humorous video. The men watching the video had a 39 percent decrease in cortisol, a 38 percent drop in dopac and a 70 percent drop in epinephrine, all of which are stress hormones. At the same time, endorphin levels rose 27 percent, and growth hormone levels rose 87 percent. Endorphins and growth hormones are known to reduce the effects of stress and benefit the immune system. These changes were not seen in the other eight men who were told they would not view the funny video.

The levels of stress-inducing hormones increasingly dropped (and for the stress-reducers, rose) at a progressively greater rate as the date of the humorous experiment approached.

Previously, Berk and his team found that anticipating a funny video changed the subjects’ mood states. In addition, Berk has shown that watching humorous videos decreased some stress hormones and increased the activity of specific white blood cells called natural killer cells that specialize in killing virally infected cells and tumor cells.

"The anticipation of a funny event changes mood states, which appears to trigger profound physiological changes in the body," Berk said. "These mood and body changes also lasted well after the actual event. Optimism and expectation or anticipation of positive experiences appear to help in recovery from illness, supporting the reality that there may be a biology to the concept of hope." Berk and his colleagues continue to look at the relationships between mood, behavior and prevention and effective treatment for a wide range of diseases.

Berk’s colleagues in the study include Dr. David Felten, executive director of the Susan Samueli Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and Dr. Stanley Tan of the Oakcrest Research Institute and James Westengard of Loma Linda University School of Medicine.


complete archive of press releases is available on the World Wide Web at www.today.uci.edu.


Andrew Porterfield | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.today.uci.edu
http://www.uci.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance
25.09.2017 | Institut Pasteur

nachricht MRI contrast agent locates and distinguishes aggressive from slow-growing breast cancer
25.09.2017 | Case Western Reserve University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer ISE Pushes World Record for Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells to 22.3 Percent

25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance

25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>