how do smells affect us?

How do scents affect our emotions?

The sense of smell is not only extremely linked to memory but also to emotions. This is also explained by the connection between the olfactory bulb and the limbic (primitive) system of our brain. Think of how our first ancestors relied on this sense for the most basic needs. For example, they would smell fruits to determine if they were right to eat or rotten. They would also choose their partners based on body odour produced by the genes which make up our immune system. And of course, they would be wary by the smell of smoke. Their survival depended on the sense of smell.

As unbelievable as it sounds, the perfume industry still trusts in evoking these primitive basic emotions. They try to create fragrances and campaigns that array certain emotions and feelings such as desire, power or freedom. Smells are very important when it comes to attraction between people and perfumes smartly play that card. Nevertheless, our emotional response to smell is governed by an association with past memories and experiences and therefore, to emotions that the scent evokes. Therefore, different people can have completely different perceptions of the same smell. A fragrance can be extremely appealing to some and disgusting to others… it depends on what your brain associates to that scents.

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!

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Have you ever wondered how smells affect your emotions? Do you feel that scents change your mood? If you are interested in learning how scents are linked to memory and emotions, we hope you enjoy this post!

Maybe it’s not news to you that scents can evoke an emotional reaction from us. But how? How can certain scents bring us back to moments that we did not even remember before? When our nose first detects a smell, the olfactory neurones generate an impulse that is passed to the brain. This impulse travels through the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb, which processes the signal to later communicate it with the limbic system, which plays a major role in controlling our mood, emotions, memory and behaviour. This part of the brain is believed to be the oldest or most primitive because its structure has not changed since the very first sapiens. It is believed that this connection can explain why smells are so strongly related to our memory and emotions.

How are smells and memory linked?

Our brain 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. The sense of smell is highly associated with memory, some believe that much more than the rest of our senses.  We might be able to think of smells that evoke particular memories, which can often happen when smells spontaneously make us remember an event or experience. For example, smelling your grandma’s perfume can evoke a childhood hug, or sniffing a fresh croissant, can bring you back to that fabulous trip to France.


Memory, emotions and scents

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.

At Scent&Colour, we like to 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.

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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