Are you too involuntarily thinking of a specific place or person when you smell a certain scent? Memory and smell are linked in ways we don’t yet fully understand.
Now, a new study suggests that smells during sleep may positively affect some aspects of cognitive function and circuitry important for memory and cognition.
In the U.S. study, elderly adults were “scented” with different essential oils for 2 hours each night for six months — causing a statistically significant improvement in memory performance. The Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test attested a statistically significant improvement of 226% compared to the control group. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies showed improved function of the left uncinate fasciculus, an area of the brain associated with memory and cognition whose function normally declines with age.
Improving our memory performance through such simple measures as aromatherapy while we sleep seems an enticing prospect. But please be careful when trying it yourself: especially for asthmatics, infants and small children, the actually beneficial scents can be irritating. And some fumes are not suitable for dogs and cats either.