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.
"This would be one of the safest and the easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners," said Kalipada Pahan, Ph.D., the lead researcher of the study and the Floyd A. Davis Professor of Neurology at Rush.
The mice in the study received oral feedings of ground cinnamon, which their bodies metabolized into sodium benzoate, a chemical used as a drug treatment for brain damage.
These changes, in turn, led to improved memory and learning among the mice.
"We have successfully used cinnamon to reverse biochemical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with poor learning," Pahan said.
The researchers found that after eating their cinnamon, the poor learning mice had improved memory and learning at a level found in good learning mice. However, they did not find any significant improvement among good learners by cinnamon.
"Individual difference in learning and educational performance is a global issue," Pahan said. "We need to further test this approach in poor learners. If these results are replicated in poor learning students, it would be a remarkable advance."