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Neuroenology: Drinking Wine to exercise Brain Muscles

Posted: Friday, 07 April 2017 17:19


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Neuroenology : Drinking Wine to exercise Brain Muscles

April 07: Forget about your Crossword, Sudoku, Scrabble, or playing with word games like Pictionary or complex computer games to exercise your brain muscles. Sniffing, and analysing wine could be the ideal workout for your brain, according to a wine-loving neuroscientist who has written a book on Neuroenology that explains how the brain creates the taste of wine

Dr Gordon Shepherd, from the Yale School of Medicine, said sniffing and analysing a wine before drinking it requires “exquisite control of one of the biggest muscles in the body“, adding, “ Wine drinking can be the ideal workout for your brain, engaging more parts of our grey matter than any other behaviour”.

Rather romanticising the whole tasting experience of a sip of wine, he says that the movement of wine through the mouth and alcohol-infused air through the nose causes the brain to conjure up a flavour. When you swirl wine around their mouth as you are supposed to, the tongue's intricate muscles are put to work along with thousands of taste and odour receptors. This  process engages the brain more than listening to music or solving a difficult maths problem.

Shepherd has coined the term “neurogastronomy“ to describe the study of how the brain creates the perception of flavour. The most important part of this “brain activation“ comes when we breath out wine-infused air after taking in a sniff, of course, he adds.

According to the report in Telegraph, he talks of flavours of wine and says, “The molecules in the wine don't have taste or flavour, but when they stimulate our brain, it creates flavour the same way it creates colour,” he said. The brain builds a picture of colours in the mind using information from the eyes about how the light hits the objects around us.

He said his research showed that taste was a lot more subjective than previously thought. In his new book “Neuroenology: How The Brain Creates The Taste of Wine“, he writes: “The taste is not in the wine; It is created by the brain of the wine taster,“ he says.

Given that if this were true, more attention should be paid to the drinker than the wine, because everyone uses their own frame of reference to process taste. This is heavily dependent on our own memories and emotions and those of our companions at the time, he says. Additional factors are also involved, such as the composition of the saliva,  age and gender of the drinker.

And while it's typical during wine tasting sessions to spit out wine into a spittoon, Shepherd says swallowing is a key part of the tasting process. But Shepherd cautions against overdoing it, and says that  after a few sips you are simply downing the stuff. If you take too large a sip, you've saturated your system.

Warning against over-drinking, he gives out the warning-Drink too much of the stuff and your brain will be strained in a whole different way by an awful hangover.

It is not easy to prove or disprove the good professor but it does appear to be incredible- more or less like the weight loss pills in the market. Perhaps a great way to boost the sale of books! Apparently, no study has been done of any kind. He is also not saying how the pleasure of wine tasting increases by swallowing wine. In any case, the sip is complete without swallowing since a few drops do go in the system while tasting. And if he talks of professional tasters who need to taste 50 wines or more, he is talking of people getting harmfully drunk.

If one were to believe wine does not have its own taste but it is created by the taster’s tongue and the communication with the brain, almost everything we taste with our tongue has sweet, sour, bitter and salty sensations-umami is Japanese claimed sensation. The book seems to negate the basic hypothesis and is thus may be a subject to criticism-editor

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