Scent Memory

Scent memory

The way human memory works is a complex and controversial matter. However, everyone can see from their own experience that you remember certain events better if you can link them to something else. Simply put: in the mysterious network of our brains, events, thoughts, emotions, sounds and smells are linked together, as it were, when they are experienced simultaneously. According to a certain code, the impressions are stored in the brain. However, much of that stored information is never retrieved. As if a cupboard has been locked and the key has been lost. On the one hand, it is perhaps a pity that we forget so much, but on the other hand, someone who could remember everything would certainly go insane. It is therefore very surprising how, when smelling a certain odour, a situation from many years ago can suddenly come to mind. It can also happen that a person abhors a smell throughout his life, not so much because the smell is foul, but because it reminds him of an unpleasant event.

On the other hand, a smell that most people would describe as a "stench" can evoke wonderful memories in someone else. The so-called foul smell is then experienced by the other person as delicious and sniffed with pleasure. This perhaps explains why tastes can differ so much and how certain experiences, both conscious and unconscious, can leave their mark on our preferences and aversions. Because these specific scent memories are so strictly personal, there is little more to be said about them in general.


6 December 2021 ~ Rob Hoogerwerf

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