The scent of the past

The scent of the past

22/05/2019

Keep a sun cream Tube under the nose and feel the sun, Sand and salt on the skin? Or you squeeze in the morning, in the subway, and the perfume of the passenger you beam back into the arms of her Ex?

Smells evoke the strongest, most direct memories. And the most emotional: Increases us a smell in the nose, we know from earlier, drives us the feeling in the limbs, which we bought at the time with him – no matter whether security or fear, or love-sick heart palpitations.

Conversely: people Who can’t smell well, remember, under certain circumstances, also be bad. There is a close connection between an impaired sense of smell and dementia diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The show, in the meantime, various studies, so that it is researched whether the olfactory functions may be an early warning sign of such neurodegenerative diseases.

Fragrance charms are put directly in the feeling core of the brain

A strong correlation between failing a nose force and dementia have been identified only recently, researchers from the American Michigan State University. They had derived for a study more than a decade, her sense of smell, disease and mortality rates in 2289 people between 71 and 82 years. An important result: The participants who started with a poor sense of smell, in the investigation, had after ten years, a 46 percent higher risk of death than those with a good sense of smell.

But why just the nose and memory are linked? “Our sense of smell is the only one that is directly connected to the emotion center of our brain,” says Rachel Herz, which explores the psychology of smell at Brown University in Providence (Rhode Island), and most recently the book “the Scent of Desire” has been published. She was able to show that scent stimuli via a direct rail unfiltered to the so-called Amygdala, the “sense core” of the brain. And to the neighboring Hippocampus, in which our brain processes experiences and memories formed.

Both structures belong to the so-called limbic System, which plays an important role in the processing of emotions. We combine the scent of Apple pie, perhaps with a pleasant, sheltered childhood, or the perfume with the Ex, has much to do with these nerve cell bundle.

How much this System kicks in when you Remember, could heart, to prove via magnetic resonance imaging: Breathed in subjects of your favorite perfume, showed a significantly higher activity in the Hippocampus and in the Amygdala than in other scents.

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Nose, feelings and memories are so closely interwoven. The history of evolution this direct link is quite useful: for example, we detect rotten food very quickly, and before we put it in the mouth. Image or sound memories we are experiencing as a less emotional and therefore less strong. The reason is that Our other senses are not directly connected to the limbic System. They are connected through the various intermediate stations and tested, such as in a structure called the Thalamus, which acts like a Filter.

How is it that we store fragrances always in connection with a certain experience, have now found researchers to Afif Aqrabawi, the University of Toronto out. You investigated on the basis of mice, what happens when a certain Smell path is interrupted in the brain, the limbic System connects with the nervous core of the AON (anterior olfactory nucleus). What is the function of the AON is, try to explore many scientists.

The animals breathed in again and again to the same odor source as if they were always New to discover. Although the mice were able to perceive the new smell, but they were not able to save it and in a context. Aqrabawis conclusion: the combination of The two in an attempt capped regions of the brain is crucial, in order to form complete memories, one of which is the fragrance.

If smells trigger panic

But not always, fragrances are associated with pleasant impressions. “Smells are the worst trigger for post-traumatic stress disorder,” says heart. They cited the case of a soldier who could no longer stand the smell of meat on grill: This was for them inseparably with deadly attacks in Afghanistan. “This is hardly to treat, because in the case of smells, the emotional connection is so strong,” says heart.

And also in Alzheimer’s patients can cause odors still very vivid memories, but only at the beginning of the disease. Because quite quickly about the so-called olfactory bulb, the smell stimuli of the senses shrinks in Affected cells from the nose picks up and forwards. The sense of smell decreases rapidly, until the Patients are able to perceive in General, no odor.

And what makes a fragrance free world with us? “People without a sense of smell you will lose your most emotional memories,” says heart. Also the fun of the food, and many other sensual pleasures fall away. Studies show that people who were able to, for example, after an accident – no perfumes, were, after a year of depression than those who were blinded by a blow of fate.

The question remains: Is there a therapy for people who can’t smell? A type of hearing aid for the nose? So far, unfortunately, no. But according to the smell of a researcher’s heart is currently being worked on.