A recent study, which uses rose scents to boost memory performance, investigates the role of odour in learning and memory. Olfaction is one of the oldest senses and links closely to parts of the brain that deal with emotion and memory.
Learning anything new relies on the conversion of details from the short-term memory into the long-term memory, which occurs through a process called consolidation. Studies show that consolidation during sleep is vital for building memories and to this end, researchers have looked to odour. The authors confirm that the strategic use of aromas while learning and during sleep might improve exam performance.
This study concludes that if we smell an aroma while we take on new knowledge and then sleep next to the source of that same odour, we will find it easier to recall the information at a later date. As the lead researcher, Dr. Jurgen Kornmeier explains, “We showed that the supportive effect of fragrances works very reliably in everyday life and can be used in a targeted way.”