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Allegrini 2018

TRAINING IS KEY. ACCORDING TO A SCIENTIFIC STUDY THE BRAIN OF PROFESSIONAL SOMMELIERS EVOLVES AS A CONSEQUENCE TO THEIR PROFESSION, GENERATING A BIGGER AND THICKER ENTORHINAL CORTEX

The more you do something, the better you become at it. This assumption is true of virtually every human activity, but according to a study recently published in the scientific journal "Frontiers in Human Neuroscience", the adaptive mechanism of the body also applies to wine tastings, since professional sommeliers over the years would develop simultaneously a wider and thicker entorhinal cortex - the area of the brain that is associated with memory and identification of aromas - than the average person.
The study, as reported by "Wine Spectator" (www.winespectator.com), was led by Sarah Banks, head of Cleveland's Lou Ruvo Center for Neuropsychology Department, and Jay James, director of Chappellet winery and a Master Sommelier, sampled 26 participants, half of which were Master Sommeliers and the other half a control group made up of people who were not wine experts. Both groups were submitted to a series of visual and olfactory tests, including MRIs, and as expected the results confirmed that the brain areas associated with the development of olfactory signals and memory were more active in the first group compared to the second. But, there was another surprise, the sommeliers’ entorhinal cortexes, the area most involved in these activities, were both broader and thicker, and the sommeliers’ who had been practicing their profession for a longer time had thicker cortexes, suggesting that it is structural, more than genetic.
Further, since the areas of the brain related to smell and memory are the first victims of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson, it is possible that the constant training of these areas can have beneficial effects and, in a sense be "protective". Of course, many more studies will need to be carried out to confirm this, so in the meantime, it is better to try to train one’s sense of smell with a glass of good wine.

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