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Cinnamon May Aid Learning Ability

Cinnamon May Aid Learning Ability
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Wednesday, 13 July 2016 01:16 PM

Some people are naturally good learners, and some people aren’t. But a sprinkling of cinnamon may do the trick – at least for mice, a new study finds.

Little is known about the neurological processes that make people naturally good learners, say scientists at Rush University Medical School in Chicago. But they do know that the key to understanding lies in the hippocampus, a small part in the brain that generates, organizes and stores memory.

Researchers have 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.

So they designed a study in which mice were fed 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 neural cells in the hippocampus.

They also used a Barnes maze, a standard elevated circular maze consisting of 20 holes, to identify mice with good and bad learning abilities. After two days of training, the mice were examined for their ability to find the target hole. They tested the mice again after one month of cinnamon feeding.

The researchers found that after eating their cinnamon, the poor learning mice had improved memory and learning at a level found in good learning mice. However, they did not find that the cinnamon resulted in any significant improvement among the good learners.

"We need to further test this approach in poor learners. If these results are replicated in poor learning students, it would be a remarkable advance,” says lead researcher Kalipada Pahan, of the study, which appears in Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

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A new animal study finds that cinnamon may enhance learning ability.
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Wednesday, 13 July 2016 01:16 PM
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