Did you know that your smell sense can lead you to an emotional flashback? A research proves that smells have the unique ability to connect us with memories from our past, particularly to childhood memories.
The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses.
Those with full olfactory function may be able to think of smells that evoke particular memories; the scent of an orchard in blossom conjuring up recollections of a childhood picnic, for example, This can often happen spontaneously, with a smell acting as a trigger in recalling a long-forgotten event or experience.
Marcel Proust, in his ‘Remembrance of all Things Past’, wrote that a bite of a madeleine vividly recalled childhood memories of his aunt giving him the very same cake before going to mass on a Sunday.
So why is this? The majority of us clearly rely more on a sense of sight than our sense of smell day to day, so what is it about our sense of smell that works to better trigger our memory and our emotions? The link may simply be due to the architectural layout of our brain.
The brain’s olfactory cortex, which is located within the limbic system, the birthplace of emotions and storage locker for memories, is responsible for one’s sense of smell.
One reason this might be has to do with the way your brain processes odors and memories. Smells get routed through your olfactory bulb, which the smell-analyzing region in your brain. It’s closely connected to your amygdala and hippocampus, brain regions that handle memory and emotion.
“Interestingly, visual, auditory (sound), and tactile (touch) information do not pass through these brain areas. This may be why olfaction, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories.”
What’s your favorite smell? share it.