The Link Between Smell & Memory

Do you ever walk into a room, and the smell immediately takes you back to a past memory? A woman’s perfume could remind you of an old friend. A certain sunblock prompts memories of a family vacation. We know our senses play a big part in creating memories, but why does such a specific smell trigger such a precise memory?

It all comes down to science. The olfactory bulb, which runs from the nose to the brain, is the part that makes it all happen. It’s part of the brain’s limbic system, an area often referred to as the “emotional brain” because it’s so closely associated with memory.  Plus that bulb has direct connections to the amygdala, which processes emotions, and the hippocampus, which links two stimuli, or a behavior and stimulus, together.

Combined, it’s the perfect formula. The smell hits that olfactory bulb, travels to the amygdala and hippocampus – creating the link between the scent and emotion, and then stores the memory in the limbic system. The next time you experience that fragrance, the memory is retrieved, and it’s like a flashback in time.

Stay tuned for ways to create your own “Fragrant Memories.”

Check out these links for a more detailed explanation:

http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/human-nature/perception/smell3.htm

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-babble/201501/smells-ring-bells-how-smell-triggers-memories-and-emotions