One of my favorite “ice breaker” type questions is this: Had you to give up one of your five senses – sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell – which one would you choose?
I know from my own experiences that there is a strong association between smell and memory. Whenever I smell a humid basement – that strange mix of wet concrete specific to New England – I can immediately remember a hundred things about my grandparents’ house. Years ago, I walked past a man wearing the same cologne a long-ago, long-time boyfriend wore, and I found myself a little choked up before I pieced together what I remembered and why.
But, I never studied why smells can trigger memories. So, I went in search of an article that might explain, and I found a great one on HowStuffWorks. It’s worth a read. The most interesting fact I learned was about anosmia. Anosmics are people without a sense of smell. I had no idea that there was an actual name for this condition. I also did not really appreciate how global sense of smell is in terms of how the human brain works (or doesn’t work).