Scents & Memory: The Neural Pathway Connection
Have you ever paid attention to where your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors come from?
On an unconscious level, our thoughts are created from circumstances, genetic imprints, and other people. The majority of our thoughts are automatic and we can find it hard to acknowledge them consciously. Those thoughts that are unconscious are directly related to the reason we feel certain emotions or behave a certain way. Sometimes the thoughts can take place in shaping our personality.
But, how can we trigger those unconscious thoughts? There are many ways, but one way is through smell. Memories are placed into the back of our minds until something happens to take us back down "memory lane." Certain scents can help those memories resurface instantly. Here are some examples: The smell of chlorine can call upon pool related memories/ The smell of crayons may take you back to grade school/ The smell of gasoline can bring about memories of the gas station---the list goes on and on-but the point is that scents trigger memories INSTANTLY!
Now let's get technical for a moment. To understand how "memory lane" can happen with smell, you need to understand the brain. The olfactory system is inside the nose with 100 sensors. You use those sensors to smell everything. Once that system responds, it begins to send signals to the limbic system and the cortex in the brain. The limbic system controls emotions, memory, and behavior. The cortex is the outer part of the brain the controls conscious thoughts. So when both of these systems are signaled, it communicates to how we taste and acknowledge what was just smelled! This happens in more ways than you would think. The average individual can identify 10,000 smells, but how many people do you know can recall all 10,000? It's because they get stored in our memories and we loose track of them. So enough with the technical stuff, basically all the smells are doing is helping you become more aware!
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