Our brains need constant exercise to stay in tip-top shape (and no, trying to guess which Housewives will get caught up in the latest catfight doesn't count). Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are all well and good, but a new book says that enjoying a glass of wine engages our brains even more than activities like solving math problems or listening to music.
In his new book, Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine, author Gordon Shepherd, a neuroscientist at Yale University, states that the flavor of wine "engages more of our brain than any other human behavior," according to an NPR article. When we sip a glass of wine, thousands of taste and odor receptors are stimulated in our mouths, which triggers brain activity involving "pattern recognition, memory, value judgment, emotion, and of course, pleasure," says the article.
Wine molecules don't have their own taste or flavor, says Shepherd. It's only when you drink them does the brain become stimulated, creating flavor that you then experience as you sip. "The analogy one can use is color. The objects we see don't have color themselves—light hits them and bounces off. It's when light strikes our eyes that it activates systems in the brain that create color from those different wavelengths," he explains in the NPR interview.
And sipping wine is key; gulping it down doesn't have the same effects. "If you take too large a sip, you've saturated your system," Shepherd says.
So sniffing, sipping, and enjoying your glass of Merlot is the way to get a good brain workout in. Sounds like the best exercise ever.
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