Can fragrance boost memory as we age?
Can your favourite scent help boost your memory as you age? According to a recent study at the University of California, Irvine, the answer is ‘yes.’ “When a fragrance wafted through the bedrooms of older adults for two hours every night for six months, memories skyrocketed,” explains Neurohacker Collective, an online scientific site.
Individuals assigned to the olfactory enrichment group were provided with an odorant diffuser and seven essential oils (rose, orange, eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, rosemary and lavender.) They were asked to turn on the diffuser when they want to bed, and the fragrance was released into the air during the night for two hours when they first went to sleep. They rotated through the different scents each night.
Researchers have concluded that keeping the brain stimulated and exposed to novelty is one of the best ways to maintain healthy cognition as we age. You can do it a number of different ways but using your sense of smell has a big advantage. The olfactory system is the only sensory system that is directly linked to the limbic system in the brain which has a crucial role in memory, emotion and behaviour. “Stimulation of the olfactory system can help delay memory decline via direct neural activation,” says Neurohacker.
Smelling something with a distinctive smell, like a favourite cologne or perfume, acts like a stimulant in the brain. The key is to switch up your fragrances regularly so that the aroma is always new to your sense of smell. It’s this novelty that sparks the brain.
At the conclusion of the study, participants who smelled the fragrances each night demonstrated a 226% improvement in verbal learning and memory performance compared to those who did not smell the essential oils.
This University of California study will definitely spur more research into the health benefits of fragrance. This may lead to entire collections to smell at night when you sleep.