Have you ever been out and smelt a delicious smell that triggers a childhood memory? It’s happened to most of us in our lifetimes. We remember our grandmother’s favourite lilac or violet scent, or the smell of freshly baked shortbread during the holidays. Not only does scent trigger happy emotions, but also it triggers wonderful memories too.
First, we must understand the difference between scent and fragrance. Scent is related to our sense of smell, and can be sweet, sour, pleasant, or unpleasant. A fragrance is generally something that is added to a product and is always pleasant. Perfume is a specific product that is added to the skin to make us smell good.
The reason why scent can trigger pleasant memories for us lies in science. You’ll be surprised to hear that smell can trigger an even deeper link to our memories and emotions than any of the other senses, even sight.
When you breath in a smell, your brain transfers this information to the olfactory bulb, basically your brain’s smell centre. This is connected to your hippocampus and amygdala. The hippocampus is where memories are stored, while the amygdala is responsible for the emotions you feel upon experiencing a scent. The other senses pass their information to the hippocampus and amygdala, while smells have a shortcut to the olfactory bulb. This is one explanation as to why smells can quickly trigger a memory or event, or provide such an intense emotion.It is called Olfactory memory, which refers to the recollection of odors.
You may be wondering why smell can take such a priority in our bodies. Well, this goes right back to the evolution of humans. Smell was essential to our early survival – smelling dangerous predators before they smelled us, and even sniffing food to ensure it was safe to eat.
A fun fact is that we still possess over 1000 different smell receptors in our nasal cavity, for a total of 10M, while there are only four receptors for touch, and four for light. Scientists even believe that some of our scent memories are stored right within the olfactory bulb in our brains. It’s also believed that children as young as four years old begin storing these scent memories within their brains.
By the time you’re an adult, you know your favourite scents and smells. And who doesn’t need a safe and healthy way to quickly feel better on a busy day? We wear perfume more for ourselves than for for others. But there’s a better way than directly placing essential oils on our skin, and also a better way, especially if you have pets.
You can store your favourite memories in fragrance jewellery. These scents will help trigger the most wonderful memories to you, any time that you choose to smell them. Even better, your health and your pets will not be exposed directly to the essential oils!
The next time your memory is triggered by a scent or fragrance, stop and take a break to enjoy the emotions that you experience. It can be wonderfully therapeutic!