Thursday, May 13, 2010

Laugh...It's good for you! Science in the News...

In the News


Laughter Is the Best Medicine
Though many experts are skeptical of the results, a small new study suggests that laughter may be as beneficial as exercise. Participants who watched a humorous 20-minute video clip showed decreased levels of the appetite-repressing hormone leptin afterwards, suggesting that repetitive laughter can affect hormones in the same way that exercise does. Those who watched a violent video clip showed no statistically significant change in leptin levels. Although the physiology of laughter is not well understood, studies since the 1970s have shown that laughing can help reduce blood vessel constriction, boost immune function, and relieve stress.
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I often use news articles, like this one from today's In the News, to bolster interest in science. Here are ideas that may engage students: enzymes, leptin, "statistically significant," stress, and many more. Watch where this article can lead your students!

For example: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v382/n6588/abs/382250a0.html is an article on leptin, accessed today. Here's one sentence from the abstract: "A TOTAL deficiency in or resistance to the protein leptin causes severe obesity1–4. As leptin levels rise with increasing adiposity in rodents5 and man6,7, it is proposed to act as a negative feedback 'adipostatic signal' to brain centres controlling energy homeostasis, limiting obesity in times of nutritional abundance1,3. Starvation is also a threat to homeostasis that triggers adaptive responses8–12, but whether leptin plays a role in the physiology of starvation is unknown. " Hmm! Want to read more? Some of your students might want to keep reading. See how a news article like the one shown can be used to bridge to the journal articles like the one on leptin. (For more on this, contact Dr. J about a Reach Reading ^TM Workshop.)

In the News article is requoted here because when the day changes, the article is not the same: