Scientific studies take fragrance and oils very seriously in terms of the healing power of scent. We interact with scent on a cellular and neurological level. It is not only through our nose that scent is received. Our skin is capable of perceiving and processing fragrance on its own.
Fragrance creates a neurological association that leaves a permanent footprint in the memory. There is a science behind why scent is so impactful and transportive.
Before reaching your thalamus, scents wind their way through other regions of the brain, including areas controlling memory and emotion. So with scents, we have many pathways processing together even before we have conscious awareness of what we are experiencing.
The body contains far more receptors for smells than it does for other senses, like sight and touch. What this means is we can discern between many different types of smells, even those we may not have the words to describe.
Odor-Cued Memories Tend to Be Stronger, More Emotional.
Taken together, we understand why odor-cued memories are particularly unique and poignant.
They are associated with “strong feelings of being brought back in time” and awaken memories with exceptional clarity. Only music comes close, but even a favorite song struggles to compare.
Both young and old adults are able to recall more than twice as many memories when they were associated with an odor, which provides evidence for substantial olfactory cuing, typically remarkably intact in old age.
An olfactory experience can embed a permanent memory the very first time it is experienced.