The smell of fresh laundry, or a certain undetermined detergent, reminds me of my first boyfriend, his silly blue wooly jumper.

The scent of Freesias or Lilacs remind me of my mum, they are her favourite flowers.

The smell of Deep Heat reminds me of being a barmaid at a Rugby club in my summer break from university. Every time I walked past the sweaty changing rooms, the heady, sickening smell would permeate my nostrils.

Issey Miyake perfume reminds me of a holiday in Toronto after my A-Level exams. Of roller-blading for the first (and possibly last) time, and falling head over heels (blades) and exposing my knickers to everybody in the vicinity. N.B. Should never wear a short skirt when rollerblading.

The smell of Farenheit makes me ill. Worn by an ex who almost drove me to insanity and took me very much for granted. It’s a horrible smell anyway.

Vanilla reminds me of camping holidays in France. So does Pernod, so does Lavender.

The Jean Paul Gaultier perfume I wear will forever remind me of a certain someone who remembers the smell as well.

More than any other sense, smells keenly evoke memories and feelings for me. I am instantly transported to a different place - I shiver, a chill rushes down my spine. It is like a nasal déjà vu. I am that silly, shy girl, nervously holding the hand that leads to the blue wooly jumper. I am sat alone, crying after an argument with that sickening aftershave smell still lingering to make me hurt even more. I am laughing, at first through embarrassment, and then just for the joy of laughing with my skirt hitched up past my waist and my knees grazed and sore.

Here's the Science bit

The nerve cells in the nose are directly connected to cells on the cerebral cortex. The primary olfactory cortex, where the processing of “smell” takes place, links directly with the amygdala and the hippocampus. The amygdala is involved in experiencing emotion and also in emotional memory. The hippocampus is also key to working memory and short-term memory.

"Olfaction is the sensory modality that is physically closest to the limbic system, of which the hippocampus and amygdala are a part, and which is responsible for emotions and memory. Indeed this may be why odor-evoked memories are unusually emotionally potent....The fact that olfactory receptors are the only sensory receptors directly exposed to the environment may also help explain the relationship between olfaction and memory. Could it be that olfactory receptors most readily receive information from the physical world and therefore are readily able to code memories for things like emotion or events?"

Post script: This phenomenon has been labelled the "Proust effect" – the association of odour with experience - after the author described such an event in "Du Côté de chez Swann".

Science stuff

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