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Hear the One About the UCI Laughter Study?

November 07, 2002|Jeff Gottlieb | Times Staff Writer

Take my joke. Please.

It could make you feel better.

UC Irvine researchers have found that even looking forward to a funny event creates physiological changes that reduce stress. Results of the study were presented Wednesday at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Orlando, Fla.

A team led by Lee Berk, assistant professor of family medicine and a researcher at the Susan Samueli Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, tested 16 men at Loma Linda University. The eight who were told three days ahead of time that they would watch a funny video saw the levels of three stress hormones drop.

Meanwhile, the researchers found the men showed increases in endorphins and growth hormones, both of which reduce stress.

"The anticipation of a funny event changes mood states, which appears to trigger profound physiological changes in the body," Berk said Wednesday.

Moreover, Berk said, mood and body changes last well after the actual event, suggesting that "optimism and ... 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."

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