Our human senses are incredible and are what allow us to understand the world around us and they are also important in the making and recall of memories. Most people are aware of the five basic senses including sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. There is also a sixth sense known as proprioception, which is the sense of body positioning and movement. As more and more research is undertaken into how the human body and the brain works more and more senses are being discovered such as the sense of pain, sense of balance.
One of the five senses that is often given less importance than the others is the sense of smell. You can easily think of smell as your nose detecting what the scent of an item is and whilst in extremely simplistic terms this is right your sense of smell is so much more complicated and impressive than that. It is why Scent Marketing has become so popular for businesses. Your sense of smell is liked heavily to your recall and construction of both short term and long term memories and this is where Scent Marketing comes into its own by stores utilising smells to create particular feelings in their customers and companies like https://moodmedia.co.uk/project/scent-marketing-for-businesses/ can help with this.
Your sense of smell begins in your nose where over 400 different receptors in the lining of the back of your nose lie in wait for the smell molecules from any aromas to float past. These receptors all work on different smell combinations. It is like a giant lock and key centre. When the receptor connects with a smell molecule it sends an electrical signal to the processing centre of the brain known as the olfactory bulb. This is essentially a sorting area for all the electrical signals that are firing around your body at any given moment. From here the signal is moved on to the relevant area of the brain. The ‘smell’ signal is forwarded on to a number of areas in the brain including:
- An identification centre called the piriform cortex
- The Thalamus which is which is another relay area for signals in the brain
- Our sense of smell and taste are so closely combined due to the signal that is sent to the orbitofrontal cortex. It is this combination of senses that allow us to appreciate the different layers of scents and flavours in our food and drink and is one of the reasons why if you have a heavy cold you can find that food seems to lose its smell and flavour.
- The link between smells and our memories and other emotions comes from the signal that is sent to the hippocampus and the amygdala which are areas of the brain concerned with memory, learning and other states such as anxiety, fear and pleasure.
So next time you enjoy the smell of a beautiful rose give thanks to the complex and hardworking system that is your sense of smell.