Washington: Sprinkle it on bowls of porridge or add it to toast, coffee and breakfast rolls, cinnamon not only enhances flavour, but can also make you smarter, suggests a study.
The Rush University Medical Center study found that feeding cinnamon to laboratory mice determined to have poor learning ability made the mice better learners.
Lead researcher Kalipada Pahan said, "This would be one of the safest and the easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners."
Some people are born naturally good learners, some become good learners by effort and some find it hard to learn new tasks even with effort. Little is known about the neurological processes that cause someone to be a poor learner and how to improve performance in poor learners.
"Understanding brain mechanisms that lead to poor learning is important to developing effective strategies to improve memory and learning ability," Pahan said.
Researchers found that the hippocampus of poor learners has less CREB (a protein involved in memory and learning) and more alpha5 subunit of GABAA receptor or GABRA5 (a protein that generates tonic inhibitory conductance in the brain) than good learners.
The mice in the study received oral feedings of ground cinnamon, which their bodies metabolized into sodium benzoate, a chemical used as a drug treatment for brain damage. When the sodium benzoate entered the mice's brains, it increased CREB, decreased GABRA5, and stimulated the plasticity (ability to change) of hippocampal neurons.
These changes in turn led to improved memory and learning among the mice.
The study appears in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology....