The Scent Connection: Why Scents Trigger Such Strong Memory Recall

The Scent Connection: Why Scents Trigger Such Strong Memory Recall


Have you ever caught a whiff of a scent and were mentally transported back to a specific moment in your childhood?  Or alternatively, maybe you detected a pleasant scent on the wind and inhaled deeply, nearly intoxicated by the pleasure of the experience. Most people have experienced these phenomena many times in their life.  For some it occurs annually as seasons change or as holiday scents flood the market.  For others, it is triggered by returning to a familiar place, like a loved one's home or a regular vacation spot.  Sometimes, it is just a random scent note that triggers the response. 

This experience is called a scent memory.  According to Psychology Today, the reason this happens is that smells are processed differently than other senses.  Without getting too scientific, the basic explanation is that our olfactory nerves are connected to two specific places in the brain that story memory and emotion.  On top of that, we have over 1,000 receptors just for smell (vs. just 4 each for touch and sight). 

Our brains are the ultimate computers.  When you are in a moment, your brain is gathering and storing all kinds of data, much of which you are not even consciously aware.  Position and proximity of objects, ambient sounds, lighting conditions, touch and feel of things, and of course, the scents all contribute to the experience, whether or not you are actively processing them.  And these details are cataloged and stored in various parts of your brain, all tied to the memory, like mental hashtags.  So when a scent comes your way and filters through your 1,000+ receptors, your brain analyzes and compares the experience to previously stored data.  When there is a match found, a "file" opens and the memory loads into your conscious brain.  

Scents can also trigger emotions in the same way even without a prior memory because of their connection to the emotion center of our brain.  A great deal of research has been done on using aromatherapy to combat a variety of conditions including anxiety, insomnia, migraines, depression, and nausea.  

The connection between scent and positive memoires and feelings is a huge reason we make the candles that we make.  We love candles and when we come across a scent that triggers that warm and happy feeling, we have to have it.  We have chosen our scent line, not to be chic or trendy or abstract, but to authentically reflect specific, positive scents.  Our goal is to provide our customers with candles that deliver on the scent they are hoping to find to create their own special happy place, full of warm and happy memories!

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