Smell, Anosmia, and Memory

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#1 10 October, 2016 - 23:39
Joined: 2 years 8 months ago

Smell, Anosmia, and Memory

This is interesting:

With No Sense Of Smell, The World Can Be A Grayer, Scarier Place

Nisha Pradhan is worried. The recent college graduate just turned 21 and plans to live on her own. But she's afraid she won't be able to stay safe.

That's because Pradhan is anosmic — she isn't able to smell. She can't tell if milk is sour, or if she's burning something on the stove, or if there's a gas leak, and that worries her.

And a part about memory:

Remember the smell of your elementary school cafeteria or the perfume of your first crush? That feeling — where a certain smell instantly takes you back — doesn't happen for Pradhan. And she's afraid it means parts of the past are missing.

"When I ask my sister about this, and she and I are not very far apart in age, she remembers people and places and things we've done more vividly than I do," Pradhan says.

Pradhan may be on to something, according to biologist Paul Moore, author of The Hidden Power of Smell: How Chemicals Influence Our Lives and Behavior.

That's because smell memories are created in a different way than other memories. When you smell something, he says, it triggers a response in the limbic system – what he calls the emotional part of the brain.

"When olfactory signals come in, you feel about them first. And then you think about it and then the memory is laid down," Moore says.

So without the feeling part, the thinking about it part doesn't come. And that means no new smell memory gets created, according to Moore.

With No Sense Of Smell, The World Can Be A Grayer, Scarier Place

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