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How do scents evoke powerful memories and emotions in us?

BingMag.com How do scents evoke powerful memories and emotions in us?

The aroma of freshly ground roasted coffee, which penetrates through the open doors of a coffee shop on a snowy morning and spreads into the surrounding air, can It acts like a magical gate that suddenly appears in your path and immediately takes you from a busy street in Tehran to a small cafe in Shiraz that you visited years ago.

Different scents, in fact They have the power to bring back forgotten memories to life as clearly as possible. But why do smells sometimes bring our memories to life? Especially deep emotional memories.

The short answer to this question is that the areas of our brain that are responsible for processing smells, memories and emotions are very intertwined and interconnected. In fact, the connection between the human sense of smell and the brain is very unique among other senses.

Scents are actually very small chemical particles that enter the olfactory bulbs of the brain through the nose and in the They float there to be processed and decoded in contact with the olfactory nerves.

In fact, the olfactory bulb is where the senses associated with each scent are processed by the brain. Brain cells then carry this information to a small area of the brain called the amygdala, where emotions are processed, and then transferred to the adjacent hippocampus, where the process of learning and memory formation takes place.

This leads to a close connection between different emotions, memories, and odors. This is why the memories created by scents are more emotional and exciting than other memories, and their recollection is clearer and more vivid for us. Sometimes even a familiar but forgotten scent can bring tears to a person 's eyes. We examine the processing of olfactory data by the brain and its relationship to memory recall. Join us.

How is olfactory data processed in our brains?

BingMag.com How do scents evoke powerful memories and emotions in us?

The olfactory process, in addition to sensing the odors themselves, also involves the process of recalling the memories and feelings associated with each odor. Smells can provoke strong emotional reactions in humans. In surveys of people's reactions to different odors, the responses often show that our olfactory interests are based solely on the emotional associations associated with different odors. Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, the oldest and most primitive part of the brain, which is thought to be the seat of emotion. They are transmitted to the cerebral cortex, where "cognitive" recognition takes place. Therefore, when we recognize a particular scent; For example, the scent of vanilla, that scent has already activated the limbic system of the brain and provoked deeper emotional reactions in us.

For decades, scientists believed that humans had a great ability to recognize and Does not detect odors. Our ancestors used their noses much more than us. In fact, in today's world we need them much less in our daily lives, and our sense of sight overrides our sense of smell in many situations.

But this does not mean that we do not have a strong olfactory potential. Research shows that we can detect at least 1 trillion different odors.

However, understanding our innate olfactory abilities is complex because human language does not have the words to describe a trillion different odors. In addition, most of the olfactory process takes place outside our conscious level.

Unlike our other senses, the olfactory nerves do not move directly to the thalamic area of the brain, which is the gateway to our consciousness. Instead, information travels from the nose to the cortical regions of the brain, evoking emotions and memories without entering our realm of consciousness. To be.

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Fragrances and emotions

BingMag.com How do scents evoke powerful memories and emotions in us?

For example, entering the living room is a repetitive stimulus for you, something you do over and over again. , So it is unlikely that this action will remind you of a particular moment in which the room happened.

On the other hand, if you smell something that is related to what happened in your past, and That event will never happen to you again, it may evoke a familiar, good or bad feeling from smelling it, but never remember exactly what it was.

Typically, when a person inhales something that is related to a significant event in his or her past, he or she will first have an emotional response to that particular scent, and then a memory may follow. But sometimes, some of our memories never reappear.

In fact, a person may feel emotional experiences that have happened to him in the past, but he may not remember what he experienced.

This is unlike any of our other sensory experiences. In other words, you do not see or feel anything, but you can only recall the emotional memory associated with the event.

This has something to do with the context of the event. Imagine, for example, a person walking down the street smelling something he first encountered a few decades ago and developing an emotional reaction. Now imagine if that person first encountered the odor in a very different context, such as a movie theater, it would be much more difficult for him to accurately identify the memory associated with that odor.

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BingMag.com How do scents evoke powerful memories and emotions in us?

In fact, the brain uses the peripheral tissue to It makes sense to use information and find relevant memories.

After a while, if a person constantly inhales a scent, the connection between that particular scent and memory disappears and that scent exerts its power to bring that memory back. Hand gives. In addition, the memories evoked by the scent have similar shortcomings to other memories, in the sense that they can be inaccurate and rewritten with any reminder.

However, due to the strong emotional associations that these memories have. They create, people who remember something because of a perfume, are often convinced that these memories are accurate.

The relationship between smell and memory also includes memory health issues. Decreased sense of smell can sometimes indicate the early signs of memory-related illnesses, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, but in many cases it can be simply the result of aging.

This entanglement and The strange connection between different emotions and scents can have a simple evolutionary explanation. The amygdala is an evolved area of the brain that was originally dedicated to the detection of chemicals. Emotions warn us about approaching and avoiding various things, and this is exactly what the sense of smell does. Gives. Therefore, both of them are very closely related to our survival.

In fact, the way we use emotions to understand and respond to the world around us is similar to how animals use their sense of smell.


So the next time you cry over the scent of a perfume or put a smile on your face after smelling fresh home-made sweets, you can thank the way your brain processes and organizes olfactory information based on your old memories. Or blame it.

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Odor effect on mood

BingMag.com How do scents evoke powerful memories and emotions in us?

Although there is compelling evidence that pleasant scents can improve our mood, some of these findings should be Recent studies have shown that our expectations are actually about a particular odor that is responsible for the mood effects of that odor on us and determines its health benefits, not the odor itself.

In one experiment, researchers found that only A. The fact that a good or unpleasant odor is spreading in the air, which people may not even be able to inhale, can cause changes in mood and health. In fact, simply giving the participants a positive odor in this experiment reduced their symptoms of health disorders and improved their mood.

However, the results were more reliable than experiments based on It has been obtained using placebos (Bibo sprays). These studies have shown that although people respond somewhat to odorless placebos that they think are perfumes, the effect of real perfumes is significantly greater. The thought of pleasant scents may be enough to make us happier, but the real scent can have tremendous effects on improving our mood and good mood.

Although olfactory sensitivity generally decreases with age, it is clear Fragrant perfumes have been shown to have positive effects on mood in all age groups.

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The effect of smell on our perception

BingMag.com How do scents evoke powerful memories and emotions in us?

Positive emotional effects of pleasant scents also affect our perception of other people. In experiments, subjects who are exposed to pleasant scents tend to rank higher for the attractiveness of the people in the photos, although some other studies have shown that this effect is only noticeable in cases where there is ambiguity in the state of the photos.

In fact, if a person is clearly extremely beautiful or very ugly, perfume does not affect our judgment. But if a person's beauty is moderate, a pleasant scent can change our evaluation in his favor.

Unpleasant odors can also affect our perception and evaluation. In one study, the presence of unpleasant odors not only gave subjects less credit for the beauty of the people in the photos. Pleasing can disrupt our judgment by reinforcing our positive perceptions and feelings. In an experiment at a Las Vegas casino, the amount of money people bet when the casino was filled with pleasant scents increased by more than 45 percent.

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olfactory taste

BingMag.com How do scents evoke powerful memories and emotions in us?

interests Smell is often a purely personal matter that pertains to specific memories and associations. For example, in one survey, the answers to the question "What are your favorite scents?" It contained many scents that were generally considered unpleasant (such as gasoline and body sweat), while some of the scents that were usually considered pleasant (such as flowers) were very unpleasant.

These olfactory interests and preferences The basis of good and bad experiences associated with different scents are formed. Despite these individual characteristics, we can make considerable generalizations about olfactory interests.

Experiments, for example, have shown that we tend to "love what we know," that is, people with odors that can Correctly identifying them are rated higher.

There are also some fragrances that seem to be universally regarded as a "pleasant fragrance", such as vanilla, a popular ingredient in many fragrances that It has long been known as a standard "pleasant odor" in psychological tests.

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Emotional partner odor hp>

BingMag.com How do scents evoke powerful memories and emotions in us?

Inhaling body odor can give us a lot of information about people, in fact more than A person's physical and emotional state can be deduced. The health and biological compatibility of the opposite sex with us is determined by the smell of his scent, which helps us to choose the best option as a spouse for family and reproduction.

Various tests have shown that the symptoms of the disease They can express themselves through the smell of the human body. From an evolutionary point of view, there are benefits to diagnosing diseases by sniffing people. In fact, choosing an unhealthy partner is not the best way to transfer your genes.

However, perhaps even more important than gene diffusion, the sense of smell gives us the ability to recognize differences in the structure of tissue adaptation between individuals. .

The structure of tissue adaptation is actually a gene family related to the immune system and body odor. Scientists have long known that animals such as mice can tell each other how genetically related they are to other species by sniffing each other's urine. They do not need each other. When scientists at the University of Chicago asked a group of women to smell the T-shirts worn by different men for two consecutive nights, the women determined the closest genetic match between them and themselves.

In fact, Our job is to protect our genetic resources. But this is more about eliminating bad partners than about choosing the best partner.

Research shows that women prefer potential partners who are somewhat genetically related, but to They do not have much in common genetically.

Studies show that births between couples who are genetically too similar can lead to miscarriage or low birth weight. Conversely, marrying someone who has a close (or semi-close) genetic structure means keeping children more compatible with the environment.

In addition, some perfumes can make us more attractive to potential emotional partners. For example, using perfumes that are based on grapefruit essential oil. In a study that included guessing women's age based on their photographs, participants guessed the age of the grapefruit when they smelled it, on average 12 years younger than their actual age, and if participants inhaled pungent, floral scents. The women weighed an average of four pounds thinner.

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    If you also feel that babies have a special and pleasant smell, you are right. In 2013, scientists from Germany, Canada and Sweden took FMRI scans of 30 women while smelling cotton clothes on newborns. Doing so activates the thalamus of newly born women more than women who have no children, indicating a greater level of attention from mothers. Round, small face and beautiful voice of babies activate in them. In fact, it is nature's way to create a bond between mother and child. Although only women were tested in that particular study, the odor produced similar results in men.

    Researchers have not yet been able to identify the molecules that are responsible for producing a good odor in infants. However, some researchers have done research on the treatment of depression based on the smell of infants and have achieved positive results in this area.

    The team is also currently investigating whether women Suffering from postpartum depression have no receptors for the baby's perfume molecules or do not receive reward signals from the baby's odor. Recognize their biology by smelling them. In one study, mothers detected the smell of their baby from two other babies six hours after birth, even if the mother and baby were separated at that distance. Sixty-one percent of mothers guessed their children correctly.

    Final point

    Although our sense of smell can sometimes lead us astray, in general Sends us important information about other people.

    For example, warns you of a threat or a dangerous person near you. Or it informs you about a person who is ill and may be contagious. Or many other things, such as that your baby needs care, or that a person can be a potential and suitable partner for you.

    Dr. Lundstrom says: You inhale, listen to your inner voice, because your inner voice can guide you to do the right thing.

    This is for educational and informational purposes only. Be sure to consult a specialist before using the recommendations in this article. For more information, read the Digitica Magazine Disclaimer .

Source: SIRC , Live Science , Discover magazine

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