Did you know that smell is the only sense that is directly linked to the limbic system? The limbic system is responsible for processing emotions and creating memories. This explains why certain smells can trigger powerful emotions and memories.
According to research, 75% of our emotions are generated by smell. This means that smell has a huge impact on our mood and how we feel on a daily basis.
There are many different smells that can have an impact on our emotions. For example, the smell of freshly baked bread can make us feel happy and comforted. The smell of roses can make us feel romantic. And the smell of garlic can make us feel anxious or even angry.
Proust and the Madeleine
In Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, the reference behind our best selling fragrance Le Temps Perdu, the narrator takes a bite of a madeleine cake soaked in lime-blossom tea and is transported back to his childhood. The madeleine had been given to him by his Aunt Leonie, and the Proustian moment occurs when he is able to recapture the feelings and emotions of his childhood that had been long-forgotten.
It is no coincidence that Proust used the scent of madeleine cakes dipped in tea to trigger a flood of memories for his protagonist Marcel. The madeleines took him back to his childhood, to a time when life was simpler and more innocent.
The madeleine episode is often cited as an example of the power of smell in evoking memory. Smell is one of the most primal senses, and it has a direct connection to the limbic system, which is responsible for emotion and memory.
Power of Rosemary and Therapy of Fragrance
When we smell something, the olfactory bulb sends information to the amygdala and the hippocampus, which are responsible for processing emotions and memories. This direct connection means that smells can have a powerful impact on our emotions and memories.
A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that people who were exposed to the scent of rosemary showed improved memory performance. The study participants who smelled rosemary performed better on a word recall test than those who did not smell the herb.
Rosemary is just one example of how smells can impact our emotions and memories. Other studies have found that the scents of lavender and jasmine can reduce anxiety, while the scent of citrus can boost mood.
The power of smell to evoke emotion and memory is one of the reasons why aromatherapy is such a popular treatment for stress and anxiety. Aromatherapy uses essential oils to provide a range of benefits, including reducing stress, improving sleep, and boosting mood.
So, while the madeleine episode is often cited as an example of Proustian nostalgia, it also highlights the power of smell in evoking emotion and memory. The next time you catch a sniff of a familiar scent, take a moment to stop and remember. You may be surprised at the emotions and memories that come flooding back.