How Scents Can Be Linked to Specific Nostalgic Memories and Emotions

Smell, memory, and emotion are all so closely related inside of our brains. I can remember being 8 years old visiting my grandparents in Florida for Christmas. The smell of their condo was a mixture of ocean, salt and my Grandma’s holiday pie.

She always used a lot of cinnamon in her pies and the breeze would waft it through the entire condo. When I walk into a store around the holidays and they sell those cinnamon brooms I am brought right back to my childhood spending the best time with my loving grandparents. Smell is such a powerful sense and it can completely change your entire mood.

This infographic from the team at FrangranceX titled, The Powerful Link Between Smell, Memory and Emotion states that scent has the strongest link to emotion than any other sense and that we are 100 times more likely to remember something that we smell versus something that we see.

It also states that 75% of everyday emotions are influenced by smell. Humans have over 400 smell receptors that help tie scent to our emotions.

When it comes to sight and touch there are only four different light receptors and four different for touch as well. In 2017 scientists discovered that some memories are stored in the olfactory bulb itself when instructed to do so by the orbitofrontal cortex.

Neurons in your nose extend directly to the orbital lobe of the brain. It is almost like you just sniff a memory right up! This can sadly also trigger a lot of trauma responses and bring up not so happy memories.

Just like smelling your partner’s favorite perfume can bring back the memory of your first date, smelling a specific candle scent that your ex used to burn can trigger memories of hard times too.

What are some of your earliest memories of scent?

Links between smell, memory and emotion explained.

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