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What Is the Proust Phenomenon?

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What Is the Proust Phenomenon?

The event that a particular scent brings back a certain memory, due to its strong and long-term recall. In the form of Odor-Evoking Autobiographical Memories, they are found in Proust's works. The word is named after French writer Marcel Proust, who described how eating a madeleine took him back to boyhood in the first portion of his multivolume work  In Search of Lost Time.

Which Part of The Brain is Essential for Smell Memory?

If we examine the Proust effect in detail we see that so much scientific researches are made about it. All of these researches agree that smells can evoke old memories in our brain. All other sensory systems must send a signal to the thalamus. However, the nerves that carry information about smell never get permission. Smell signals do not cross the thalamus and reach their final destination directly in the brain.

One of these destinations is the amygdala where the Proust Effect becomes meaningful. The amygdala governs not only the formation of sensory experiences but also memories of sensory experiences. Since the smell directly stimulates the amygdala, it also directly stimulates the senses. Then, scent signals travel to the orbitofrontal cortex, which plays a role in our brain's decision-making. Meanwhile, the smell says; "I give you a feeling worth remembering, what will you do with that feeling?"

Why Do Smells Trigger Memories?

Since scents travel to the brain in a direct way, they find a way directly in our brain. Since our brain is a memory center, it remembers that smell directly. Along with the scent, we have placed that scent in our brains where, when, and for what reason, which is also recorded in our brains. For this reason, when we smell a familiar smell, we remember the first time we felt that smell. In addition, as the smells go straight to the brain, which is the center of our body, our emotions at that time come to life directly within us. To give an example from me, I still remember the smell of perfume of my primary school teacher. I was trying to paint when I first felt that smell. I don't have any memory in my life that I remember so clearly.

Power of Scents

The olfactory system is housed in the same part of the brain that regulates emotions, memory, and creativity. The smell-processing portion of the brain also interacts with the areas of the brain that store emotional memories. A smell becomes associated with a specific experience, person, or time or place when it is continuously related to that experience, person, or time or experience.  It is not all about sweet or bad memories that come from the fragrancies. The power of scents can have both positive and negative physical effects on someone. Here are some of them.

Inflammation is reduced, and disease-causing bacteria are killed.

Your energy is recharged.

Relaxation is encouraged.

Your stress level is reduced.

Your alertness is boasted.

Pain and despair can be alleviated.

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