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The Scents in the Memory!

Updated on April 29, 2020
Zura Khan profile image

Being a psychotherapist & trainer, I will provide you with quick self-improvement tips that will make your better & groom your personality!

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What is a memory?

Firstly, we need to understand the term "memory", how it works, and what is its role in our life. Basically, memory is related to the information that we gain through our senses! Memory is a brain's faculty that has an important and vital role in one's life! If we talk about the definition of the memory, then,




Memory is the chunks of information that is stored in the brain by an individual. However, it is recalled subconsciously as well as consciously!

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Types of Memory

Memory is a brain's faculty that allows an individual to store the information after decoding it. And the person is able to retrieve it whenever he wants!

Memory has the following three subtypes:

  1. Sensory Memory
  2. Short term Memory
  3. Long term Memory

Sensory Memory

Retaining the impressions by the sensory stimulus is the work of the "sensory memory". It is merely related to the information that is being produced through the sensory stimulus or object.

Sensory memory merely rotates around our "sensory experience".Do you know how??? It just keeps the information that is necessary to transfer to the short term as well as long term memory! Thus, it includes iconic, auditory & olfactory memory of the relevant experience.

Short term Memory

Short term memory is one of the components/types of the memory that has the capacity to store information, after decoding procedure, only for 20 seconds. Though, information can move from short term to long term memory by a procedure in the cognitive psychology that is known as "Rehearsal". Now, what do we mean by rehearsal? Basically, rehearsal is a term used in cognitive psychology that includes "repetitions" of the information that you want to be stored in long term memory.

For Instance:

If you want to remember a series of digits. You will repeat that specific series again & again. Or you can understand it by another example that if you are meeting a person for the first time, and he tells you his name. After a few days, you remember the face but you find it hard recalling the name of the person. But if you met someone more than one time than due to repetition, you will remember his name because it has been stored in the short term memory!

Long Term Memory

Long term memory is the third type of the memory. And it contains the longest information stored. For example, all of your childhood memories from school which you still cherish and recall sometimes, are stored in your long term memory. Moreover, the facts & figures that we remember, are all stored in the "long term memory".


How Memories are triggered by the Scents?

Have you ever been to a cafe, where you used to visit with your college friends? And after years, when you got there again, the smell of the freshly baked cakes and brownies, suddenly reminds you of all the memories from years back?

Moreover, the same images start revolving in your mind? Do you know why?

Or there is a scenario that:

One of your friends had presented a "floral perfume" to you on your Birthday! And you have kept it to use it for special occasions in your life. But whenever you use it, your brain reminds you of that specific FRIEND! Though, you were not even thinking about her. Isn't it surprising? To understand this phenomenon, here are the interesting facts which will give you information about it.



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Scents Detection

Whenever a smell or the scent is detected, it is moved towards the "olfactory Bulb", which is the point in the brain that processes the information & then sends it towards the other part of the brain.

In such a way, a scent is moved from the external environment into the person's senses! However, the scent is in the form of "fumes/molecules" which travels through "olfactory nerves" to the "olfactory bulb".

Connection of the Scent & the Brain!

According to the researches, scents are considered as the sensations that directly reach the centers of the brain and it includes Memory as well as Emotions!

How scents are connected to the brain?

There is an important system of the brain i-e LIMBIC SYSTEM which includes, "Hippocampus" that is also used in the conversion of "short term memories" into "long term memories" for storing. In addition to that, it is the hippocampus that is involved in the restoration of Spatial as well as Declarative memories.

Here, another important point to remember is that memories are always related to emotions too! Furthermore, it is our memories that often trigger emotions.

Consequently, the scents, memories & emotions are interlinked and intertwined.

According to an assistant professor at Psychiatry & human behavior, Rachel Herz, the memories that individual experiences through scents are more emotional as compared to other senses.

Thus, it is the specific scents that take us back on the rollercoaster ride of emotions! Reminding us all the good or bad times. Additionally, the scents are involved in triggering the "Specific, relevant" memories which then triggers the "automatic emotions" in a person's mind and the cycle goes on!






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"Specific Scents" trigger "Specific Memories"

Why do you feel emotional, smelling the same scented flower that was also planted years ago in your garden? Why does it take you back on the days reviving all the old memories? why do you feel connected to it? Why does it make you remember your grandparents or any other family member from your childhood?

YES, the answer is the same! It is the scents that are stored in our memories. And whenever we come across the same scent again in our lives, it triggers those memories from the past. And with that comes the emotions & feelings too!

This is the reason, the scents have a special place in our hearts as they bring back the old times in our minds. Several studies have proved that the scents, firstly evoke the emotional response in an individual and then reflections of the memory follow it!

Furthermore, according to Rachel Herz, a person may feel an emotional reaction to the specific scent but don't remember the exact event. Though the scent may have triggered the part of the brain that is involved in the emotions yet the memory may be the part of his unconscious mind.

Now, if you ever smell the scent or a perfume and all you feel is gloomy or sad, tell your mind not to trick you! Instead, intentionally smell the scent that triggers good memories, evoking emotions of Joy & Happiness!

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Zura Rubab Khan

Let me know if you find this article helpful!

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    • Zura Khan profile imageAUTHOR

      Zura Rubab Khan 

      17 months ago from Pakistan

      Thank you so much for your acknowledgment!

    • profile image

      Rida fatima 

      17 months ago

      Your writes are interestingly informative..

      Ur words heals.. u play wd words as well as wd our minds too.

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