Unpacking The Connection Between Scents And Memories

When something smells delicious, you can’t help but follow your nose, and sometimes those scents can transport you to a long-forgotten memory! But how are scents and your memories connected?

There are certain smells you tie to certain memories. Like the scent of cookies might remind you of your grandma, or the scent of a dish might take you back to a fond memory during your childhood!

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The anatomy of your brain is somewhat responsible for making these scent and memory associations. When you smell something, the signals from smelling get passed to the brain’s part, where your memories are made!

Scents are the only signals that get transported to the memory center. That’s why scents and memories are so well-connected!

Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

A specific scent can help unlock a memory that you may have forgotten. But unlocking a memory with scent can only be done by a scent you’re not constantly exposed to.

The more exposure you have to a scent, the less likely you’ll be able to tie it to memory. The smell of your house won’t be able to trigger a specific memory, but the scent of a specific perfume can remind you of someone!


The scent might not always unlock a memory, but it can unlock an emotion. And you can use the emotion to understand the memory further and why your emotional response is so triggered!

Emotion is an indicator of safety. For example smell of chlorine might make you scared because you’ve drowned before. The fear will let you know to stay away from anything with the scent.


Scent also forms a big part of your culinary experience! Your olfactory senses are elicited and contribute to your perception of flavors and the overall experience of food!

Our senses can also be manipulated to make associations. For example, people might associate the smell of fire with danger and the scent of citrus fruits with the colors orange, yellow, or even green!


Your senses do dull as you get older, and you might feel like you’re not experiencing smells as intensely as before. However, you can exercise your nose by using it to identify scents often!

So try identifying the scents around you so you can smell better and create new memories associated with all those new smells!

Written By:
Dr Saadiqah Hajat

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