In a study by neurological scientists at Rush University Medical Center revealed that mice that were known to have poor learning ability were able to perform better after being given a common household spice – Cinnamon.
While it is still indefinite what causes people to become poor learners and how to improve their performance, this research finding could be one of the safest and easiest ways to improve a person’s learning ability – and it all lies in understanding the hippocampus.
The hippocampus is a small in the brain in charges of generating, organizing, and storing memory. Previous researches have determined that the hippocampus of poor learners have higher levels of GABRA5 (a protein involved in the prevention of stimulation in the brain) and lower levels of GABRA5 (a protein involved in learning and memory).
When the mice received oral feedings of ground cinnamon, their bodies metabolized the cinnamon into sodium benzoate which is used to treat brain damage. As the sodium benzoate entered the mice’s brains, it increased CREB and decreased GABRA5, and stimulated the ability of the hippocampal neurons to change.
The researchers used a Barnes maze which consisted of 20 holes to identify mice with good and bad learning abilities. The mice were tested once two days after initial cinnamon feeding, and once again a month after cinnamon feeding. Researchers found that after eating cinnamon, the poor learning mice had improved levels of learning and memory – the same as good learning mice. However, they did not note any significant effect on initially good learning mice.
“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”, said Kalipada Pahan, PhD, the lead researcher of the study.
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