Insight | Science

Scent and Memories: The Connection Between the Two

Jumat, 13 May 2022 12:00 WIB
Scent and Memories: The Connection Between the Two
Ilustrasi mencium aroma Foto: Pexels
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Have you ever encountered a moment where you're suddenly taken aback by a certain memory when you inhale a significant scent? It's probably become common knowledge that scents are indeed very closely linked with memories. Theresa L. White, Ph.D., professor and chair in the Department of Psychology at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, stated that the sense of smell conjures up memories so well that they feel as if they were experiencing the event again. However, how does that eventually work in our brain?

A Northwestern Medicine study, published in Progress in Neurobiology, managed to identify a neural basis for how the brain can enable odors to trigger powerful memories that we once had. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, also unveiled specific types of neurons within the memory center of our brain responsible for acquiring new associative memories, the example, when memories are triggered by unrelated items, such as an odor or certain scent.

Pamela Dalton, Ph.D., MPH, an Experimental Psychologist and faculty member at Monell Chemical Senses Center, also stated that the scent can be strongly associated with the memory   to the extent that re-experiencing the scent often revives the emotions or feelings that were initially experienced, be it a place or a person. The bigger and the stronger emotional memory that someone holds, the more that person could revive the memory related to the scent. It appears to be due to the privileged access of the central brain structures of the olfactory system to the limbic system structures   such as the amygdala and hippocampus (the brain's main memory center), which are involved in regulating emotion and emotional memories.

.Ilustrasi mencium aroma/ Foto: Mentatdgt - pexels

So, it's safe to say that memories of specific events from a first-person point of view are where the sense of smell is best connected to memories. Scent can also affect how our brain works due to adjustment. For instance, if you're the kind of person who always enjoys lavender scent after work hours for relaxation, your mind unconsciously will link the lavender scent as a scent that can always relax you and bring you to places with lavender scents. You'll be adjusted to the comforting and relaxing feelings you are used to.

Therefore, it could be put to the conclusion that not only does our brain's smell center connect right to its memory center, but it also stores long-term memories in-house. So, whenever you're thinking of memory or a person, always remember the scent as it could bring back memories in the future.

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(DIP/MEL)