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Smelly Answers

What if you could use the scent of smell to greatly improve memory recall!

Smell is believed to be the most powerful memory recall device possible, especially when trying to dig up deeply hidden memories.

The reason for this is that while most of the senses need to go through other filter parts of the brain before reaching the memory, the nose is able to bypass this and go directly to the memory centre, making it extremely useful for recall.

So how can we use this to help you have a better memory recall and do much better in exams.

First let me share my thoughts on the concept of "all learning is state dependent"... You probably experienced a time when a particular sensory experience - seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting or smelling - helped you recall, or triggered a past experience as if you were back reliving the experience now - what the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov called conditioning or stimulus - response.

What seems to be happening when you experience something new - a learning experience for example - that experience is stored in your memory banks as a set of the five senses ( seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling). When you encounter one of these senses - in particular the same smell - it could retrigger the full multi-sensory experience if the memory was coded in a particular way.

Smelly revision

So if you have an exam and you are revising for it make sure while you are revising to have a nice unique smell wafting in the air - perhaps a unique aftershave or perfume. Later when in the exam have some of the aftershave or perfume with you - take a whiff and notice how easily the learning memory comes.


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