Brain Teasers or The Smell Test?

(Republished from The Fifth Chapter Blog, original date 10/28/11)

There is a lot of research about brain function these days. No cure looming on the horizon, but some interesting possibilities that can either help stave off or detect early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. With our bounding border collies in tow we recently attended the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Petaluma event. A beautiful October day provided an opportunity for exercise and gathering information about this progressively debilitating disease.

One recent article in the Alzheimer’s Reading Room discussed a new method for early Alzheimer’s testing which uses smells. This one caught my eye, or should I say my nose? We know that good smells bring back good memories but I didn’t realize how olfactory nerve cells might show the beginnings of what researchers believe to be one of the causes of Alzheimer’s, the build-up of a type of plaque. The sense of smell is described by the researcher, Leonardo Belluscio, like a “canary in a coal mine.”

Now that we are heading close to the Holiday season, I wondered what other connection between smell and memory loss might be hiding right under our noses. Earlier this year, a number of sources reported Tel Aviv university students finding that cinnamon might help fight Alzheimer’s. This definitely means pumpkin pie is back on my holiday menu.

Over the years there have also been a number of studies and articles about exercise and exercising your brain with mental activity. The studies seem to indicate that both physical activity and stimulating your brain with new thinking can help keep your mentally sharp longer. This article in summarizes the ideas of this vein of research.

Since we don’t yet have smell mail, and I cannot send you whiffs of cinnamon, I have decided to occasionally post short brain teasers for my readers. You can ponder them while you are exercising your body and get a double benefit.

So grab your cinnamon sticks and try this one. There seems to be only one other word that can be made from the letters in the word IMPORTUNATE. Did you get it? Click here for the answer.

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