Want the health benefits of meditation without all the work of chasing away intrusive thoughts and feelings? Try laughing, a new study suggests. Laughter – the real kind associated with joy and mirth – sets off brain wave patterns similar to those generated when meditating. This resulted in increasing gamma brain wave activity and the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.

Dr. Lee Berk of Loma Linda University School of Medicine measured subjects with two kinds of short videos, one comical and the other distressing. Unfettered laughter brought their brain waves into a mock-meditative state which quickly triggered gamma waves where the distressing video brought a flat-line, shut-down reaction. For laughter, subjects were shown scenes from “American’s Funniest Home Videos”. For the distressing viewing, the opening scene from “Saving Private Ryan” was shown.