3D II WK 2 – Research: SCENTS & MEMORY

Smells <—> Memory

Smells can often trigger and be associated with one’s personal memories. Why? Science. The anatomy of our body and organ structure allows smells to get routed through the olfactory bulb (the smell analysing region in the brain), then triggering familiar memories.




Before reaching your thalamus, smells first wind their way through other regions of your brain, including areas controlling memory and emotion. So with scents, you have all this extra processing even before you have conscious awareness of the scent.

Your body also contains far more receptors for smells (at least 1,000) than it does for other senses, like sight (four) and touch (at least four).3 What this means is you can discern between many different types of smells, even those you may not have the words to describe.

Individual perception to scents is different due to visual or audio memories one has personally experienced. Because of this, one scent may trigger pleasant memory in one and unpleasant memory in the other.


Interesting finds

  • Aromatherapy

Specific scents can help in therapy using the connection between smell and memory. For eg, green apple scent can help in treating migranes, and lavendar for pain relief.

  • Strengthening sense of smell

The more we exercise, the less likely we are to develop problems with smelling.


The Science of How Smell Triggers Memory: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/08/06/smells-trigger-memories.aspx


  1. Hmmm,,,, how exactly those exercise ‘improve’ our sense of smell? Do you know?  Interesting research nuggets Candy 🙂

    • Candy Lee

      January 25, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      Studies suggest that our sense of smell is sharper after exercise. The causative link is uncertain, but it has been reported that the sense of smell appears to be better after exercise. Exercising enough to work up a sweat at least once a week has been connected to a lower risk of the sense of smell diminishing as you get older.  It could also be because exercise improves brain functions or because it contributes to better general health!

  2. ‘does’ not ‘those’… typo sorry

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