We have five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. They’re all important…could you imagine not being able to see the world around us, hear your children laugh, snuggle under your favourite, velvety blanket, or taste your favourite food? We can’t! But scientifically speaking, did you know that smell is our most important sense?
The science bit
Let us explain why. When you smell a certain smell, neurons at the top of your nose pass an impulse through a nerve called the olfactory nerve. This travels to a part of your brain called the olfactory bulb, which processes the signal and passes it to other areas, which are collectively called your limbic system.
Your limbic system is made up from a set of structures within your brain that scientists know play a major role in controlling your memory, mood, behaviour and emotion. It’s thought to be a very primitive part of your brain because these same structures were there in the brains of the very first mammals.
It’s what memories are made of
Smell is closely linked with memory, more so than any of our other senses - the science backs us up here! It evokes particular memories, for example a tree in blossom might remind us of our childhood garden, or walk to school. It can trigger a long-forgotten event or experience and it’s highly emotive.
The perfume industry is built around this connection, developing fragrances that induce lots of emotions and feelings, from power to desire and relaxation to vitality. For thousands of years, fragrant plants have been used as medicine and aromatherapy uses essential oil from flowers, plants and trees to support wellbeing.
Interestingly, it’s also important when it comes to romance! We all have our own scent, produced by genes that make up our immune system and our sense of smell subconsciously helps us choose a partner. Some scientists even think kissing developed from primal behaviour that we developed to smell and taste a mate.
It makes everyone unique
The emotional response we get from a particular smell is governed by association, but different people process smells in different ways and everyone has a unique perception. That’s why one person may like a particular perfume, while their friend prefers another. And, of course, we need our sense of smell to warn us of danger too.
It’s hard to imagine where we’d be without our sense of smell. We’ve all heard stories from Covid sufferers about how debilitating it can be to lose it. The way that we smell the world changes our mood, transports us to a distant memory or place, and helps us bond with loved ones. It affects how we taste things, our diet, our nutrition and everyday life.
Let’s make the most of it
With such a precious gift, at Sensum we’re passionate about the power of fragrance, and that’s why we’d really love to hear from you! What are your favourite Sensum fragrances? Can you smell the individual ingredients (remember they’re detailed on our product pages)? Do they evoke memories for you? What are your favourite smells? Is there a particular one that makes you think of times gone by? Let us know!