"Cinnamon, administered retronasally or orthonasally, improved participants' scores on tasks related to attentional processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor response speed," reports the researchers.
Scientists examined the different effects that odourants administered through the nose or mouth had on cognitive performance in adults.
During phase one, participants completed cognitive tasks on a computer-based programme under five 'chewing gum' conditions - no gum, flavourless gum, peppermint gum, cinnamon gum, and cherry gum. For phase two they completed cognitive tasks under four odorant conditions - no odour, peppermint odour, jasmine odour, and cinnamon odour.
"Results revealed a task-dependent relationship between odours and the enhancement of cognitive processing," said the researchers, with cinnamon boasting the strongest link for both fragrance and flavour.
Although further research is required, the findings have implications for the fragrance industry through the eventual development of cosmeceutical products for memory development.
"Findings from the present study are most promising in providing a non-pharmacological adjunct to enhancing cognition in the elderly, individuals with test-anxiety, and perhaps even patients with diseases that lead to cognitive decline," concluded the US researchers who will present their study in Sarasota, Florida at the Association for Chemoreception Sciences meeting that runs from 21-25 April.