Harley Carbery has developed an almost superhuman sense of smell over the years.
"Identifying the different aromatic or flavor nuances in it. You know, is it a fruit, is it not a fruit?" explained Carbery, the director of wine for Mandalay Bay Resort.
As a wine connoisseur or sommelier, Carbery says he can detect almost any ingredient in a glass of wine.
Now, research shows that keen sense of smell has developed his brain. Dr. Sarah Banks of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Brain Health did brain scans on 13 sommeliers and 13 nonexperts as they smelled various scents of wines and fruits. She found the wine experts could detect scents the others could not. But she also discovered parts of their brains are bigger, including areas susceptible to Alzheimer's disease.
"The fact that the parts of the brain that are bigger are those parts that are most vulnerable to diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's bodes pretty well for the sommeliers. It suggests that they might have some degree of protection," Banks said.
Banks says developing our sense of smell with wine or anything else might be key in growing our brains to help prevent disease.
"Definitely, sort of stopping to smell the roses a little bit, to enjoy life to think about your sensory experiences," Banks said.
Carbery says he'll toast to that.
"Now, the best part," Carbery said. "Time to taste!"
The participants in the study ranged from their 20s to mid-60s.
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