Cinnamon is a delicious addition to toast, coffee and breakfast rolls. Eating the tasty household spice also might improve learning ability, according to new study results published online in the July issue of the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.
The study by neurological scientists at Rush University Medical Center found that feeding cinnamon to laboratory mice determined to have poor learning ability made the mice better learners.
Ref: Cinnamon Converts Poor Learning Mice to Good Learners: Implications for Memory Improvement. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology (24 June 2016) | DOI: 10.1007/s11481-016-9693-6
This study underlines the importance of cinnamon, a commonly used natural spice and flavoring material, and its metabolite sodium benzoate (NaB) in converting poor learning mice to good learning ones. NaB, but not sodium formate, was found to upregulate plasticity-related molecules, stimulate NMDA- and AMPA-sensitive calcium influx and increase of spine density in cultured hippocampal neurons. NaB induced the activation of CREB in hippocampal neurons via protein kinase A (PKA), which was responsible for the upregulation of plasticity-related molecules. Finally, spatial memory consolidation-induced activation of CREB and expression of different plasticity-related molecules were less in the hippocampus of poor learning mice as compared to good learning ones. However, oral treatment of cinnamon and NaB increased spatial memory consolidation-induced activation of CREB and expression of plasticity-related molecules in the hippocampus of poor-learning mice and converted poor learners into good learners. These results describe a novel property of cinnamon in switching poor learners to good learners via stimulating hippocampal plasticity.