Comedy Improves Your Brain

In recent studies, subjects who were first shown comedy film clips were able to solve more puzzles faster than those who had been shown tragic or boring clips.

In a just completed study, researchers at Northwestern University found that people were more likely to solve word puzzles with sudden insight when they were amused, having just seen a short comedy routine. "What we think is happening," said Mark Beeman, a neuroscientist who conducted the study with Karuna Subramaniam, a graduate student, "is that the humor, this positive mood, is lowering the brain’s threshold for detecting weaker or more remote connections" to solve puzzles. ... The very idea of doing a crossword or a Sudoku puzzle typically shifts the brain into an open, playful state that is itself a pleasing escape.