Friday, October 31, 2014
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Laughter shows benefits of meditation without the work

Customer Terrance Pough reacts with laughter to a vignette about the man they called simply "Coach" or "Mr. Miller."
Customer Terrance Pough reacts with laughter to a vignette about the man they called simply "Coach" or "Mr. Miller."

Want the potential mental and physical health benefits of meditation without the work of chasing away all those intrusive thoughts? Try laughing, a study suggests.

Laughter - the real kind, linked to genuine joy and mirth - sets off brain-wave patterns similar to those generated when experienced meditators ply mindfulness skills.

Researchers know that when hooked up to an electroencephalograph, which measures electrical activity among neurons in the brain, practiced meditators can achieve a state of gamma brain-wave activity in which nearly all the brain's higher cortical regions begin to operate on a common frequency, in the 30- to 40-hertz bandwidth.

It's the pattern linked to being "in the zone," the highest state of cognitive processing.

And the gamma brain-wave state is as pleasurable as it is powerful: The neurochemical dopamine, the fuel of the brain's reward circuitry, flows freely when gamma waves prevail. The research was presented in San Diego this month by Lee Berk of Loma Linda University's School of Medicine. Berk said that for 31 university students whose scalps were rigged with listening electrodes while they watched distressing or comical videos, unfettered laughter took their brain waves most consistently into a mock-meditative state. And fast, too. "It took off like a rocket," Berk said. - L.A. Times

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