Have you ever smelled something and—WHOOSH—a rush of emotions and memories spring to life in your mind? That’s because our sense of smell, more than any of our other senses, has the power to trigger emotions and associated memories.
When we breathe in a smell, we are inhaling small, gaseous organic molecules from the air. Smells can be made up of hundreds of molecules that are trapped by olfactory receptor neurons in our nose. These neurons are directly connected to our brain, where we turn the chemical signal into a perception of smell.
A common smell, like our own shampoo or laundry detergent, is unlikely to bring up any powerful emotions or memories. However, special scents that only surface occasionally, such as regional or seasonal smells, may cause emotions and memories to flood our brains.
We know we can capture a scent in a jar, but can we capture a memory? And not just any old memory composed of words or photos or videos. A scent memory that is specific to you and your family during the winter season. It’s time to find out!