Memories are stronger if associated with them an unpleasant smell, according to a new study. Scientists believe that this discovery will expand our understanding of how to stimulate the reaction of Pavlov and how negative experience affects our ability to remember past events. Explains Catherine Hartley, associate Professor of psychology at new York University and senior author of the article in the journal Learning and Memory:
“These results show that odors can cause memory improvement as in adolescents and adults, pointing to new ways of learning and how we remember positive and negative experiences”.
“Since our study covered different age groups, it can be assumed that in the future, the odors will be used to study the processes of emotional learning and memory processes as development.”
Why smells well remembered?
We all know the negative impact of experience on memory. For example, if a dog bites you, you may have unpleasant memories of the dog that bit you, and this negative Association may apply to all dogs.
Moreover, because of the trauma associated with a bite, you probably will have a stronger Association with it than with other cases with dogs.
“The synthesis and storage of learned negative associations are the main symptoms of anxiety disorders, which often arise in adolescence,” says Hartley.
What is “bad” smell? This is partly a subjective view. In the experiment, the scientists forced test subjects to listen to different odors and to note which ones they considered unpleasant. Local perfume gave smell, of a mixture of chemical compounds, among which were rotten fish and manure.
The researchers then showed the images, backed by odor, and measured the perspiration on his palm as an indicator of excitation — a common research technique. Through the day the memory of participants was tested. Both adults and adolescents showed better memorizing specific images paired with an unpleasant odor.
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