the memory of odours

I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer — and what trees and seasons smelled like — how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odors is very rich.

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

There’s something called involuntary memory in us. When we get exposed to a stimulus, that’d trigger a strong memory from your past. For me, it could be the rich aroma of south Indian dosa with thick sambar that takes me to my childhood days and brings the memory of my home. There’re perfumes that bring in memories of Netta. For some people, the baking smell would take them from their rooms through memory travel to a cafe they’ve been in before. Brain regions processing smell, our vivid memories, and emotions are wired similarly.

A scent is a chemical particle that floats in through the nose and into the brain’s olfactory bulbs, where the sensation is first processed into a form that’s readable by the brain. Brain cells then carry that information to a tiny area of the brain called the amygdala, where emotions are processed, and then to the adjoining hippocampus, where learning and memory formation take place.

Scents are the only sensations that travel such a direct path to the emotional and memory centers of the brain. All other senses first travel to a brain region called the thalamus, which acts like a “switchboard,” relaying information about the things we see, hear or feel to the rest of the brain, said John McGann, an associate professor in the psychology department of Rutgers University in New Jersey. But scents bypass the thalamus and reach the amygdala and the hippocampus in a “synapse or two,” he said.

That results in an intimate connection between emotions, memories, and scents.

Why Do Smells Trigger Strong Memories? ” by Yasemin Saplakoglu, for Live Science

There’s a plan, order, and purpose in the way your brain is wired. How did this sophisticated system come around to you? Are with thinking about it? There’s master craftsmanship in our bodies and how everything is perceived. If we delve deep into the ordinary, it helps to discover the extraordinary miracles in them.
Time for reflection

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