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How are scents retained in your memory?

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Structure of brain can help find the causes behind epilepsy.
Structure of brain can help find the causes behind epilepsy.
  • A brain area is responsible for creating memories from smells
  • Piriform cortex which is a part of the olfactory brain helps distinguish smell

London, Dec 24, 2017: Ever wondered how you retain memories of your favourite dish cooked by your mother or your partner’s scent?

Scientists have found that a brain area is responsible for creating memories from smells as well as retaining those memories even years later.

The study showed that “the piriform cortex” — a part of the olfactory brain, that distinguishes smells — is involved in the process of saving those memories.

“It is known that the piriform cortex is able to temporarily store olfactory memories. We wanted to know, if that applies to long-term memories as well,” said Christina Strauch from the Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum in Germany.

In the study, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, the scientists wondered whether the piriform cortex needs to be instructed to create a long-term memory.

They then stimulated a higher brain area called the orbitofrontal cortex, which is responsible for the discrimination of sensory experiences. This time the stimulation of the brain area generated the desired change in the piriform cortex.

“Our study shows that the piriform cortex is indeed able to serve as an archive for long-term memories. But it needs instruction from the orbitofrontal cortex — a higher brain area — indicating that an event is to be stored as a long-term memory,” Strauch added. (IANS)

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Here’s Why You Should Follow a Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet can reduce frailty in old age

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Meditarranean diet
Eating a Mediterranean diet for a year could help keep the mind sharp and reduce frailty in old age. Pixabay

Researchers have found that eating a Mediterranean diet for a year could help keep the mind sharp and reduce frailty in old age. This is the latest health advice.

The study, published in the journal ‘Gut’, showed that following a Mediterranean diet boosts the types of gut bacteria linked to ‘healthy’ ageing, while reducing those associated with harmful inflammation in older people.

As ageing is associated with deteriorating bodily functions and increasing inflammation, both of which herald the onset of frailty, this diet might act on gut bacteria in such a way as to help curb the advance of physical frailty and cognitive decline in older age, the researchers suggested.

Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diet boosts the types of gut bacteria linked to ‘healthy’ ageing. Pixabay

“Older people may have dental problems and/or difficulty swallowing, so it may be impractical for them to eat a Mediterranean diet,” they added. But the beneficial bacteria implicated in healthy ageing found in this study might yet prove useful therapeutic agents to ward off frailty, said the study researchers led by University College Cork in Ireland.

For the study, the research team involved 612 people aged between 65 to 79 years, before and after 12 months of either eating their usual diet or a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil and fish and low in red meat and saturated fats, and specially tailored to older people.

The participants, who were either frail, on the verge of frailty, or not frail at the beginning of the study, lived in five different countries: France, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, and the UK.

Previous research suggests that a poor/restrictive diet, which is common among older people, reduces the range and types of bacteria (microbiome) found in the gut and helps to speed up the onset of frailty.

According to the researchers, sticking to the Mediterranean diet for 12 months was associated with beneficial changes to the gut microbiome.

Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diet includes fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Pixabay

It was associated with stemming the loss of bacterial diversity; an increase in the types of bacteria previously associated with several indicators of reduced frailty, such as walking speed and hand grip strength, and improved brain function, such as memory; and with reduced production of potentially harmful inflammatory chemicals.

More detailed analysis revealed that the microbiome changes were associated with an increase in bacteria known to produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids and a decrease in bacteria involved in producing particular bile acids, overproduction of which are linked to a heightened risk of bowel cancer, insulin resistance, fatty liver and cell damage.

According to the study, the bacteria that proliferated in response to the Mediterranean diet acted as ‘keystone’ species, meaning they were critical for a stable ‘gut ecosystem,’ pushing out those microbes associated with indicators of frailty.

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The changes were largely driven by an increase in dietary fibre and associated vitamins and minerals–specifically, C, B6, B9, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and magnesium, the study said. (IANS)