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Science and Scents: How Smells Trigger Memories

Learn the reason why you can have vivid memories just by getting a whiff of a familiar scent.

smelling cup of coffee

You may have noticed that certain smells trigger memories you experienced a long time ago. It may be the smell of grass that triggers memories of childhood games or the earthly scent of raindrops hitting the ground, triggering childhood memories of growing up in a small town. This is no coincidence as science indicates that there is a stronger link between smell and memories and emotions than other senses.

Why Smell Has a Profound Impact on Our Memories

Smells can trigger a sudden rush of long-forgotten memories and emotions. This is not surprising because smell and emotion are stored in the brain as the same memory. Experts note note that smell is the only sense that fully develops while the fetus is in the womb. It is also the most developed sense during childhood through the age of ten, when sight starts to dominate. 

Since smells and emotions are stored as the same memory, the child creates memories based on the smells they like or dislike. These memories go with you for the rest of your life. Most scent-related memories are often triggered by smells connected with meaningful events in the past. You may not recognize the event immediately if it was not significant, but the brain will continue processing the information until the memory is triggered. 

BluntPower to sample our original essential oil-based air fresheners and 200+ unforgettable scents.

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The Difference Between Smell and Other Senses

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Every time you see, touch, taste, or hear something, your nervous system sends that sensory information to the thalamus, which is the brain's relay station. The thalamus then relays the information to relevant parts of the brain, such as the amygdala, for processing. 

But smells are different. They bypass the thalamus and go directly to the olfactory bulb, which is the brain's smell center. The olfactory bulb has a connection to the hippocampus, which stores memories, and the amygdala, which is responsible for emotional processing. 

You may wonder why our brains are so sensitive to smell, yet we use visual images to process most information from the environment. Some scientists think that this has to do with the way humans evolved. 

Smell is one of the senses that single-celled organisms use to interact with their surroundings, so it might have a longer evolutionary history than other senses. This might also explain why humans have over 1,000 smell receptors but only four known touch and light receptors. 

The Memory Bank

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Scientists recently discovered that scent-related smells are saved in the olfactory bulb. The information is stored in a complex structure in the organ called the piriform cortex. The scientists used electrical impulses to try to find new memory connections in the brains of rats. They found that the piriform cortex is capable of serving as an archive for long-term memories but needs instructions from the orbitofrontal cortex. 

The orbitofrontal cortex is a complex structure with higher-level processing capabilities than the piriform cortex. It is instructions from this structure that instructs the piriform cortex to store information as long-term memories. 

How To Use Smells To Trigger Positive Memories

Now that you know that your brain's smell center is directly connected to the memory center and also stores long-term memories, you can take advantage of this feature to use smells to bring back memories and trigger positive emotions. 

Beach Memories

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Most people visit the beach during holidays such as the Spring Break or Labor Day weekends, where partying and blowing some weed are always on the menu. If you have good memories of the beach, you could spray BluntPower's Sandalwood Spray to feel closer to that memory and those positive emotions. 

If you prefer something stronger, the Super Hemp Odor Eliminator might do. It will help evoke memories of relaxing while blowing some weed on the beach. Alternatively, you can use the refreshing Ocean Breeze Spray Air Freshener to trigger memories of ocean tides and cold breezes cooling down your body on a hot day. 

Forest Memories

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A visit to the forest is always enchanting and revitalizing. You can trigger forest memories by spraying the Rainfall Odor Eliminator on a hot afternoon. Add in the Bamboo Mist Odor Eliminator, and you suddenly feel like you are hiking through the Everglades or other rainforest rather than enduring the hot summer sun at work. 

Past Romances

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For some people, memories of past flames, such as high school romances, can trigger positive emotions. You can use a spray or odor eliminator that smells like the perfume or cologne worn by a former boyfriend or girlfriend. Some of the perfume-themed sprays in our collection include the Cherry Spray Air Freshener and the Lavender Spray Air Freshener

Home and Hotel Aromas

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Most hotels now use scents to enhance the lodging experience. You can use air fresheners, incense, odor eliminators, and fragrances to evoke memories of a holiday or business trip spent at a five-star hotel. You can also buy fragrances that smell like your favorite spaces at home and spray them at work. 

Caribbean Holidays

BG for BLUNTPOST (4)-1If you have been to the Caribbean, the Caribbean Escape Odor Eliminator can help bring back positive memories of spending time on the Caribbean beaches and islands. You can even enhance the sensation with the Pineapple Long Lasting Spray Air Freshener to trigger memories of crunching juicy pineapples from vendors on Caribbean beaches. 

Sporting Experiences

BG for BLUNTPOST (3)-2Visits to football stadiums and other sporting events can be exhilarating for some people. You can trigger memories of your favorite sports team by buying air fresheners and fragrances that remind you of the venue and the people you often meet during such events. It may be earthly fragrances that remind you of the grass and the dirt or refreshing colognes worn by your mates. 

Visualizing Your Favorite Colors 

Most people tend to smell in color, meaning that certain smells trigger vivid images of the colors we associate with them. For instance, citrus-flavored odor eliminators and air fresheners are likely to trigger yellow, orange, or green images. Meanwhile, grassy scents will evoke images of lush green grass or brown shrubs. 

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You can always rely on BluntPower to provide fragrance spray that triggers your favorite memory and emotion. Visit BluntPower to sample our original essential oil-based air fresheners and 200+ unforgettable scents.

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