A common chemical substance ‘resveratrol’ found in wine may help boost brain power and learning, a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Picower Institute for Learning and Memory has found.

The studies indicated that resveratrol was capable of activating a group of enzymes known as Silent Information Regulator or sirtuins in the brain. Sirtuin1 holds a role in promoting memory and brain flexibility, MIT researchers reported in the leading science weekly journal Nature.

Resveratrol’s role in stimulating Sirtuin1 could lead to a discovery of new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and other debilitating neuro-denerative disorders, the researchers commented. "We demonstrated previously that Sirtuin1 promotes neuronal survival in age-dependent neurodegenerative disorders. In our cell and mouse models for Alzheimer’s disease, SIRT1 promoted neuronal survival, reduced neurodegeneration and prevented learning impairment,” Li-Huei Tsai, lead author of the study, was quoted as saying in Nature magazine.

SIRT1 activity also promotes plasticity and memory. This result demonstrates a multi-faceted role of SIRT1 in the brain, further highlighting its potential as a target for the treatment of neuro-degeneration and conditions with impaired cognition, with implications for a wider range of central nervous system disorders, said Tsai.

Though SIRT1 has been linked to normal brain physiology and neurological disorders, it was largely unknown that the enzymes played a role in higher-order brain functions.

SIRT1 aids memory and help neurons to survive through a previously unknown microRNA-based mechanism. SIRT1 also has a direct role in regulating the central nervous system, the Picower study found.

The researchers believe that SIRT1 could be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of diseases affecting the brain.