Can we possibly? If we can ably use all the other senses to enhance our memory then why can’t we smell our way into learning? I totally believe that although very novel, this is a very rich area and is worthy of our notice and exploration.
The olfactory organ, which is responsible for the sense of smell is located, you guessed it, in the memory area of the brain. Is there any wonder then that when you smell something, a perfume, cologne odour or aroma that your brain transports you back in time to when you smelt that same or similar scent? Is it possible to use our sense of smell to remember ideas or concepts that we have learned?
One foreseeable difficulty would lie in giving the definite name to the smell that would be associated with the memory. Unlike the many words that are available to describe what we see, odours are less definite and are based on the emotions that they evoke.
Although there is some on going research, there is not much to go on yet. But who knows, some day we might be able to smell words.
But what true for now is that we can add great scents to our environment to make study more effective. How? You may ask. If you have visited a massage parlour you would have noticed that the air is heavily infused with scents and wafts of different essential oils. Depending on your need, a different type of oil is applied and indeed your mind and whole body is soon put in the right frame. Similarly, if you want to create an effective atmosphere for study these same oils come highly recommended to help tune you in. Take for instance the calming Lavender or Jasmine that will do wonders for your exam panicked nerves or the boundless energy some lovely lemon can inspire in you as you read away all those notes.
Other ways to use smell and colour to memorise can be:
1. Splash some pleasant scent on your differently coloured notes. Different scents for various topics or subjects. Combine the sense of sight with smell to aid your memory in the test.
2. Spray different rooms with various scents and stick up your Sticky notes with the information you desire to remember in the different rooms or surfaces. You could consider having different scents for separate parts of the day. If you are studying in the morning, have a nice relaxing scented candle or spray it in the room you are studying in and change the spray in the evening. All these combined will make your study ‘a truly memorable’ experience!
Lois Nakibuuka is an educator and counsellor