Objective: To evaluate the effect of laughter on cognition in elderly with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) through an appropriately designed intervention. Methods: The intervention involved watching a Japanese comedy routine (Manzai) for approximately twenty minutes, once a week for ten weeks. Participants were asked to paint, as a simple exercise, in addition to watching the show. Twenty-seven patients with MCI from the convalescent ward of a general hospital in the Kansai region of Japan. We measured cognition by evaluating five cognitive function domains before (baseline) and after the intervention. We used the Wilcoxon signed rank test, a distribution-free method, to compare baseline and post-intervention data. Ethical Consideration: Participants were given a document explaining the study. Only those who officially agreed to participate were enrolled. Results: Mean age of patients was 85.0 ± 2.8 years; average education was 8.6 ± 2.8 years. Three cognitive function domains had significantly different average scores after the intervention: 1) Exercise: 44.4 ± 8.9 points at baseline, 36.3 ± 10.2 post-intervention (p = 0.014); 2) Word memory: 40.6 ± 7.2 at baseline, 43.1 ± 8.8 post-intervention (p = 0.002); and 3) Animal name recollection: 35.3 ± 8.4 at baseline, 38.1 ± 9.0 post-intervention (p = 0.003). Discussion: The intervention led to significantly higher cognitive scores in exercise, word memory, and animal name recollection domains, suggesting that interventions focused on laughter and simple exercise may improve cognition in elderly patients with MCI.
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