Monday, December 23, 2013

Why You Should Stop and Smell the Flowers

The experience of smell can have profound effects on mood. The ability to just identify any given smell is truly an amazing talent of the mind. As you take in a smell for the first time a neural process is encoded in your brain. This creates a memory and the next time the same smell is experienced the same neural pattern is identified and recalled. 

Even though it is such an intricate talent no one is shocked by the ability to identify smells, like a freshly baked apple pie or a bouquet of roses or even a public indoor pool. And I bet just reading those common smells allows you to not only imagine the smell but to experience a corresponding emotion or memory as well. Maybe that apple pie warms your heart as it reminds you of fond times with your family.

There is a fairly easy explanation for why the perception of smell is so closely linked with emotional memory, and consequently, how the mere experience of any given smell can be therapeutic. 

As a smell is taken in it must travel through the emotional and learning centres of the brain before reaching the olfactory centres (the same is also true for tastes!) As a result, every time we take in a smell an emotional imprint is also made.

So next time you’re walking down the street stopping to smell the roses may not just brighten your day but days to come as well.

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