April 15th, 2020
Contributing writer for Wake Up World
The scent of fresh-cut grass, your mom’s chicken soup or burning leaves may instantly transport you to a distant memory, one you can suddenly recall with razor-sharp clarity.
So-called odor-evoked memories often come along with powerful emotions and are known to activate the “neurolobiological substrates of emotional processing,” according to neuroscientist Rachel S. Herz, an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University.1
Research published in Learning and Memory2 added to this, suggesting that odors may modulate the dynamics of memory consolidation, including memories linked to fear, and could potentially be used therapeutically to help people recall memories or treat memory-related mood disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).3
“If odor could be used to elicit the rich recollection of a memory — even of a traumatic experience — we could take advantage of that [therapeutically],” study author Steve Ramirez, assistant professor of psychology and brain sciences at Boston University, said in a news release.4
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