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’Twas the Season

benzilGuest Post from Deborah L. Benzil, MD, FACS, FAANS
Vice President, AANS
Chair, AANS/CNS Communications and Public Relations Committee

Mt Kisco, New York

Over the recent holidays, when people came to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season, many traditions were honored including, the shortest days of the year, parties, gifts and perhaps above all food! Along with these, were the many traditional beverages such as hot, mulled cider, eggnog, champagne and wine. Given the array of these drinks, a fascinating article detailing brain activity in sommeliers caught my attention.

wineThe study was conducted at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health — part of the Cleveland Clinic Neuroscience department —  and used sophisticated brain imaging (a type of MRI called functional) to detail how these wine experts have brains that demonstrate dramatically different function after smelling wines than do non-experts. The critical take home messages are:

  • Our brains are amazing tools capable of sophisticated adaptations to special skills (in this case to the complex art of smelling wine);
  • Emerging technologies are allowing increased understanding of specialized brain function which then creates the potential for developing interventions for those who suffer brain injury or functional loss; and
  • I am thankful to be part of the neuroscience community at such an exciting time.

As 2015 came to a close, I participated in my own holiday cheer, which included:

  • Honoring the wonderful work my dedicated staff does that allows me, as a neurosurgeon, to take care of so many patients in need;
  • Spending time with family and friends; and
  • Sharing great food and libations (which will bring to mind the complex evolution of brain function demonstrated).

From the entire neurosurgery community, we wish for all in 2016 a year of:

  • Health and happiness;
  • Access to the best physicians and healthcare interventions;
  • Time to devote to something that tickles your brain in some very special way; and
  • Above all, peace!

I also want to thank many individuals who contributed to the phenomenal efforts behind Neurosurgery Blog in 2015 (see box below). I look forward to working with you all on the exciting new initiatives we have planned this year!

Lastly, thanks to our readers! I hope that you have found this blog to be informative, thought provoking and a worthwhile addition to you email in-boxes. Healthcare will continue to be a topic of ongoing interest in 2016, so stay tuned for neurosurgery’s perspectives on the many health-related topics.





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