How is the brain affected by smell?

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Certain scents can evoke an emotional reaction from us. To understand how this happens we are first looking at the region in our brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the elongated ridges on the floor of each lateral ventricle of the brain, thought to be the centre of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system.

Our brain very cleverly takes in everything that we sense all the time. Not only do we remember what we have seen but we remember what we have smelt, heard, tasted and touched.

Emotions are of huge importance as they shape us to be who we are. Because emotions are so important they can be incredibly powerful. At certain times in our lives when we have felt a strong emotion, our brains remember the scents and sights around us. This is why certain smells can automatically make us think of something visual or certain sights can make us think of different smells. Using all of our senses creates the strongest memories as it helps to paint a full picture in our minds.

We have been thinking about how we can use scents to keep certain memories with us longer and keep them more vivid. Our favourite way to do this is to wear perfume. You choose a unique scent and you wear it on yourself so that it will be with you throughout your entire experience. If you go on a romantic date, get married, go on a vacation or any big event that will stay with you, having a certain scent to associate that event with will help you to trigger that memory more often and will enable to remember details more clearly.

By using scents we can evoke the emotions that we felt during different memories. If you are feeling down then simply spray the perfume that you wore during one of your happiest moments and it will trigger a happy emotion. Our sense of smell really is amazing!

Now you have learnt a bit more about how our brain is stimulated with scents. Have you ever found yourself being taken back to a certain memory, feeling or emotion by something that you smell? Please share with us your most exciting memory and what scent you associate with it.

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