Wine has been taughted as having many health benefits. An article in the August 22, 2016 issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience suggests that smelling wine may ’sharpen your memory.
In the study, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic and Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières reviewed MRI data and health data from wine sommeliers. According to their findings, sommeliers are less likely to develop diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia later in life.
Why? The researchers surmised that “Sommeliers are trained to use olfactory memory (or the recollection of odors) to discern between different types of wine. This portion of the brain is not exercised when using other senses, like touch, sight and sound.So while you’re using your nose to identify grapes and regions, you’re actually exercising a very underutilized portion of your brain, which helps keep your mind sharp and protect against neurodegenerative diseases.”
From the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience,
Our experiences, even as adults, shape our brains. Regional differences have been found in experts, with the regions associated with their particular skill-set. Functional differences have also been noted in brain activation patterns in some experts. This study uses multimodal techniques to assess structural and functional patterns that differ between experts and nonexperts. Sommeliers are experts in wine and thus in olfaction. We assessed differences in Master Sommeliers’ brains, compared with controls, in structure and also in functional response to olfactory and visual judgment tasks. MRI data were analyzed using voxel-based morphometry as well as automated parcellation to assess structural properties, and group differences between tasks were calculated. Results indicate enhanced volume in the right insula and entorhinal cortex, with the cortical thickness of the entorhinal correlating with experience. There were regional activation differences in a large area involving the right olfactory and memory regions, with heightened activation specifically for sommeliers during an olfactory task. Our results indicate that sommeliers’ brains show specialization in the expected regions of the olfactory and memory networks, and also in regions important in integration of internal sensory stimuli and external cues. Overall, these differences suggest that specialized expertise and training might result in enhancements in the brain well into adulthood. This is particularly important given the regions involved, which are the first to be impacted by many neurodegenerative diseases.