New Study Links Scents to Memory Stimulation

A recent study indicated that spraying fragrance in the bedrooms of the elderly for two hours every day for six months contributes to memory stimulation. 

Participants in this study, conducted by neuroscientists at the University of California, witnessed an improvement by two hundred and twenty-six percent in their cognitive capacities compared to the control group. According to the researchers, this discovery transforms the long-known link between fragrance and memory into a simple, non-invasive strategy for boosting memory and potentially preventing dementia.

The study was carried out in collaboration with the UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, with participants aged between  60 and 85 with no memory impairment, who were provided with a diffuser and seven cartridges, each carrying a separate, unique natural oil. 

The enriched group was given full-strength cartridges, while the control group was given trace doses of the oils.

The results showed that the enriched group had a two hundred and twenty-six percent boost in cognitive performance compared to the control group.

Imaging also demonstrated improved integrity in the brain circuit known as the left uncinate fasciculus, which connects the medial temporal lobe to the decision-making prefrontal cortex and weakens with age.

Scientists have always been aware that the loss of olfactory capacity, the ability to smell, can result in the development of nearly seventy neurological and psychiatric diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and alcoholism. This study’s results, therefore, confirm what scientists learned about the connection between smell and memory.

Professor and James L. McGaugh Chair at the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, Michael Yassa, said that “the olfactory sense has the special privilege of being directly connected to the brain’s memory circuits,” adding that “all the other senses are routed first through the thalamus.” “Everyone has experienced how powerful aromas are in evoking recollections, even from very long ago; however, unlike with vision changes that we treat with glasses and hearing aids for hearing impairment, there has been no intervention for the loss of smell,” argued Yassa. 

Scientists plan on researching this technique’s influence on persons with identified cognitive decline in the future and hope their findings will spur greater research into olfactory therapies for memory impairment.

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