Have you ever noticed that smells like smell of rubber cleats or grass can remind you of some memories of playing soccer during the childhood ages? So is food smells. Smell as from food can bring back memories. But then how does this occur? Below is a description of how the smells from food can bring back memories.
Memories triggered by smells are stronger and emotional
Smell before getting to thalamus first passes through other brain regions including areas responsible for controlling emotion and memory. Therefore, with food smell, you have additional processing before it gets to the conscious awareness. Once you smell something, the smell unlike with other sensory organs bypasses your thalamus and heads straight to your smell center in the brain which is called olfactory bulb. This center is connected directly to hippocampus and amygdala. When the smell then is in that nearby, since those are the parts responsible for memory, it triggers a memory of the smell in details hence creating memories.
Also, the body has more smell receptors than it has for other senses such as touch and sight. Therefore, the body can easily discern various smell types even ones with no description and result in memories way back. Also compared to other body sense, the sense of smell is contained in many receptors. Therefore, this means that it is very easy to figure between various smells and then come up with memories from the discernment.
Therefore, the combination of these two aspects makes it very possible to remember events of the past from just food smell. In a study conducted to prove this, participants chosen were exposed to three different types that is smell, picture and word then requested to recall certain memories which the cues trigger.
The study resulted in that the smell evoked memories which were quite older whereas the memories with visual and verbal information were more recent. Also, the memories evoked by smell were quite emotional as compared to the other memories. The smell memories were too fast to be recorded leading the list in order.
Smells trigger fears and traumatic memories
Smells not only trigger positive things and sweet memories but also the smell of food can induce arousal psychologically and also trigger flashbacks related to trauma. Also, people suffering PTSD have proved that smell, especially from food trigger disturbing memories they ever had.
Did you know that the fear of certain smell that brings to mothers can also be passed on to their children and create memories? A study involving rats was carried out and the rats were made to fear peppermint smell when the female rats were pregnant. After giving birth to the pups, the pups were also exposed to this peppermint and it was shown that the scent kept the babies off as they had learned to fear it from the mother’s womb.
Therefore, if you can smell very well believe you are lucky and that the olfaction which is the smell sense is strongly and perfectly linked to various diverse physiological processes. Lack of smell sense is also very dangerous as it can easily lead to death faster compared to other known serious cases such as nutrition, alcohol or smoking among others.