Forgotten Memories and Smells

Why can smells unlock forgotten memories?

We do not, however, have names for all the smells we can differentiate. Smell is perhaps the sense we are least used to talking about. We are good at describing how things look, or telling how things sounded, but with smells we are reduced to labelling them according to things they are associated with ("smells like summer meadows" or "smells like wet dog", for instance). An example of this “hard-to-talk-about-ness” is that while we have names for colours which mean nothing but the colour, such as “red”, we generally only have names for smells which mean the thing that produces that smell, such as “cedar”, “coconut” or “fresh bread”.

Wasn’t there at least one mental athlete that memorized by smell? Does anyone know his name?


Scent is an important reality that too often goes under the radar. We’re hard-wired to detect and discern scents. We are mammals, after all, and food, animals, places… all have unique scents. We know the scent of our loved-one, our favorite foods, etc. What an memory tool that just might be.

I’m so glad to have read this post. I have a lot of essential oils and I never considered tying them into a memory system. Now I can’t stop thinking about it.

I KNOW the unique smells of the various blends and single oils very well.The oil blends have names like “clarity” etc. The single oils are the name of the plant from which the oil comes, such as “rose” or “jasmine” or “frankincense.”

I’m eager to figure out how to incorporate my oil collection into my memory projects, YAY! I’d be glad to hear ideas for using smell as a memory aid.



I just started a thread about it at the link below. :slight_smile:

There’s a couple of smells that have names though e.g. petrichor. One of my favorite smells.

I’m only now discovering this topic, and the link with the art of memory piques my interest. I know there exist perfumery training kits and I’ve seen something similar for sommelier/wine training as well. They’re quite expensive thought and as they fade over time (a bit like memories) I’ve read they’re not recommended. (e.g. How to Become a Better Wine Taster: Training Your Nose – wine & words ). I wonder how sommeliers and perfumers categorize scents?

I’m currently rediscovering the power of my scent. Too bad I only found out past Covid-19, because you can’t just start grabbing and smelling produces in stores now :slight_smile:

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