The delicious aroma of baking bread wafting from the open door of a nearby bakery, can act as a time portal, instantly transferring you to a busy street in new York city in a tiny cafe in Paris that you visited many years ago. The particles of the fragrance, as a rule, can revive memories that were long forgotten.
But why smells trigger powerful memories, especially emotional? The answer lies in that region of the brain that are responsible for smells, memories and emotions are very closely intertwined. In fact, the way in which your sense of smell is processed by your brain, unique among the senses.
Aroma is a chemical particle that enters through the nose into the olfactory bulb, where the sensation is first converted to a form that is perceived by the brain. Then the brain cells carry this information in a tiny portion of the brain called the amygdala, which processes emotions, and then in the neighboring hippocampus, where learning and memory formation.
Aromas — only the sensations that are traveling on such a direct path to the emotional centers and memory centers of the brain. All other senses first move to the area of the brain called the thalamus, which acts as a “switchboard” for the rest of the brain, says John Mcgann (John McGann), associate Professor of psychology at Rutgers University in new Jersey. But the smells bypass the thalamus and reach the amygdala and hippocampus immediately, which creates a close relationship with emotions and memories. So familiar, but long forgotten smell can even cause tears in people.