Friday, December 26, 2014

Smelly Christmas.

Come to your senses?  
One of the most important things to all of my offspring, while assessing new gifts, is smell.  I truly don't understand it, and suspect that all this sniffying, nay I say DEEP INHALING, followed by a satisfying "ahhhhh!" is actually an elaborate ploy to confuse their poor mother even further.  
I've smelled hockey.  (And if you never have had the experience, count yourself lucky.)  So I guess I might be able to accept the sniffing of NEW hockey skates, but a book?  I'm pretty sure even Tim Burton isn't writing scratch and sniff.

It does make one wonder, however, (okay, at least ME), about the association between the senses and memories.  This Christmas, the evergreen boughs cut off our tree at the tree lot never made it onto the front door -- they've been fragrantly enhancing the smell of the back of Kristin's car.  Christmas cookies were never baked, yet cookies miraculously appeared in time for the big day thanks to some wonderful friends.

Much of this week was spent in the hospital with my mother, as she recovered from surgery and injuries from her run-in with a pickup truck earlier this week.  I'm not sure I will ever be able to use the phrase "I feel like I've been hit by a truck" ever again -- having seen what damage even a SMALL truck can do to a pedestrian.  This is the same hospital where I volunteered in high school.  Despite multiple renovations and 35 years, it smells exactly the same as it did when I was a teenager.


Certainly the sense of smell is but one trigger for memories.  Most people have particular likes -- or aversions -- to certain smells.  (I love vanilla, cinnamon, and anything that smells like cupcakes or cookies while others love citrus, flowers, or (gag) artificial pine.)  Most people can be instantly taken back to a time gone by to remember based upon a smell.  Experts have actually studied the relationship between memory and smell, and concluded that there is a distinct relationship.

Research has shown that when areas of the brain connected to memory are damaged, the ability to identify smells is actually impaired. In order to identify a scent, you must remember when you have smelled it before and then connect it to something you saw while smelling the scent. According to some research, studying information in the presence of an odor actually increases the vividness and intensity of that remembered information when you smell that odor again.

Does this mean we should start piping scents into classrooms?  Or sending students and textbooks into hockey locker rooms?


1 comment:

  1. Oh Susan I am praying for your mom! And yes you are 1000% correct...smell is the biggest trigger for memory. Every time I make our old school cafeteria cookies I am transported back in time to those happy days at G-W. I brought a batch of cookies to a gathering last summer and our friend Chris M. told his wife that "it is not just a is a memory!" XO Barbara