Sue Cross

Sue Cross

Memory and Fragrance

Have you ever noticed that a particular scent can trigger a rush of vivid memories? The smell of cakes baking might remind you of spending time at your grandmother's house when you were a small child. The scent of a particular perfume might remind you of a romantic liaison.

Why does smell seem to act as such a powerful memory trigger?

First, the olfactory nerve is located very close to the amygdala, the area of the brain that is connected to the experience of emotion as well as emotional memory. In addition, the olfactory nerve is very close to the hippocampus, which is associated with memory.

The actual ability to smell is highly linked to memory. Research has shown that when areas of the brain connected to memory are damaged, the ability to identify smells is actually impaired. In order to identify a scent, you must remember when you have smelled it before and then connect it to visual information that occurred at the same time. According to some research, studying information in the presence of an odour actually increases the vividness and intensity of that remembered information when you smell it again. We can relive both happy and unhappy memories through the powerful tool of smell.

In my latest novel, Making Scents, Kristin stumbles across a blend of essential oils when offering her client a treatment in her salon. The client remarks to Kristin that the fragrance reminds her of her mother’s perfume. At the end of the treatment, both therapist and client feel euphoric. Kristin has discovered a blend for a perfume with a difference and knows that she must bottle it. Should she listen to her sensible husband and keep her skin care company as a cottage industry or should she go global?

Find out! Making Scents is available on Amazon as an eBook or paperback.



Posted by Alison on
This is very interesting and so true, when I walk past someone wearing a certain perfumes it reminds me of friends or family members, but I can always pin point who. I make bread at home and the aroma gives me a "home feeling". Walking in the streets in Spain the Azahar is so Andaluz, its heady but fills the air with purfume that tells you spring is coming. When I go to the stables I love the smell of the horses and hay, I feel I belong there. Some perfumes give me migraine so I am very careful what I wear. I really enjoy reading your posts Sue. 
Posted by Sue Cross on
Thanks for your comment, Alison. Yes, aromas are powerful. I love the smell of freshly mown grass, roses and home baking. At the moment my favourite perfume is Chanel Allure but this could change as so many new fragrances are coming onto the market.
Posted by Nicki on
When I was a very small child, I always adored the aroma of my mothers perfume L'air du Temps. It made me feel "safe and happy" because I knew she was near me. Another warm and comforting smell, again as a child, living in the tropics, is when it is so muggy and hot, then the rain pours down like a hot shower. It is a mixture of concrete, dust and fresh hot air, pure bliss. But the best smell in the world with which nothing can compare, is the smell of both my babies at birth. Even now they are grown up, when we snuggle up on the sofa each has their own individual personal aroma.
Posted by Marie on
funny the things we keep.I have my Mum and my Dad's old Parker pens. I still use them... only at home I be devtetaasd if I lost one of them. They were always so proud of them, the fountain pen I dug out the other day and realised it would take cartridges... bought some, wacked one in and it worked straight away. They were right to be proud and I use that now signing things... silly isn't it... but then not silly at all to me.My tool chest is my Dad's old work one... and full of his tools... most of which I have no idea to use, I often start a job with a silent prayer to him to forgive what I'm about to do :-)
Posted by Zedane on
When my mom passed away, I was only 14 yrs old, about to be 15 in 6 motnhs and the only thing I was able to keep as a memory, was a picture of her back in the 70's and a photo album. The rest of her things, my aunts and uncles kept :(But seeing her picture everyday, makes me smile, now I have a beautiful 4 month baby girl, named after her, Anne and I tell her "she is your grandma and guardian angel"
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