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January 11, 2023 3 min read

The scent memory associated with the photo of my daughter (her birthday is today) is now published on The Scent Guru Group website. This ad was for the Unilever Signal toothpaste brand and recalls the smell (and taste) of chocolate the crew gave her in order to coax her into posing. I don't recall how many chocolates she ate, but when she was finally ready to pose, the crew then had to take away the platform she refused to stand on (she was the youngest model that day), cut the flag pole and adjusted all the lighting for her height. They took just one role of film and used hers in the national ad campaign. Claire still loves chocolate, so that's what we are indulging in today to celebrate another year for her on this planet and I will need to go on a hunt for After Eight Mints for the chocolate-combined-with-mint memory!

Claire was born in France where I discovered brands like Nutella, Toblerone, Lindt and some of the best bricks of dark chocolate ever. I also discovered one of my favorite breakfast treats, pain au chocolat (a croissant with a strip of dark chocolate inside) and when I go to France, I will always make a special trip to a patisserie to engage all senses:  Sight, sound, aroma, texture and flavor presented to me by this special treat.

When I started the development of Essential Awakenings® Smell and Memory kits and activities for seniors living with dementia, I tested about 65 distinctive scents with seniors, and quickly realized that the chocolate scent was always connected to positive scent memories.  Stories told by my attendees were often sweet and some comical (like Joe at Atria Stamford who said he wanted to date the woman who wore a chocolate scented perfume) to fond memories of chocolate bunny rabbits at Easter time, boxes of chocolates given on Valentines Day, and birthday cakes. 

My sensory kits are purposeful with the mission to improve lives through scent because scent triggers memories, memories trigger conversations, and conversations lead to increased socialization--a basic human need, but often absent in many peoples' lives.

How does scent trigger memories?  Here's just a few facts as pointed out in Dr. *Rachel Herz' Smell Training Guide developed for Essential Awakenings® Smell. Recall.Connect sensory kit:

1)  Our ability to smell begins inside our nose with two patches (one in each nostril) of mucus tissue called the olfactory epithelia.

2) When scent molecules are inhaled and land on the epithelia, they stimulate the odor receptors causing a signal to travel into the olfactory bulb in the brain, and then decoded as a certain scent. 

3)  From there, the scent signal is relayed to the areas of the brain (Amygdala and Hippocampus) that processes emotion, memory and learning

4)  According to Dr. Herz, the sense of smell is the only sensory system directly linked with the neuroanatomical substrates of emotion, learning and memory. 

If you would like to have a free copy of a presentation that goes more into depth about scent, memory and communication you can write directly to me at the email address on the top of the first page of this website. You can also order a Smell Training Guide on the "products" page if you want to do some smell training with any of my available sensory kits.  Please note that these materials are considered intellectual property and should not be copied without my written permission.

To close this blog, remember to keep your sense of smell stimulated and practice mindfulness:  The sense of smell is vital to our emotional wellbeing and gives us a sense of place and can also save our lives. 

 *Dr. Rachel Herz is a neuroscientist and expert on the psychology of the sense of smell and taste, Ted Talk speaker and faculty member at Brown University. 

 

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