Posts Tagged ‘scents’

Can Specific Scents Boost Cognitive Performance?

Scents and odors have a swift and powerful impact on our brains. They can trigger memories and moods and signal the intentions and feelings of others. But can specific scents be used to improve our brain function and cognitive performance?

There are scientific studies that suggest the scent of vanilla, cinnamon, roses and peppermint impact attention, memory and mental energy.

For example,  a recent study in the North American Journal of Psychology pointed out:

“Past research indicates the odors of peppermint and cinnamon (1) enhance motivation, performance, and alertness, (2) decrease fatigue, and (3) serve as central nervous system stimulants.”

I could not find many scientific studies.  The impacts they measure are not large or sustained.

There are also some suggested uses of odor in brain training, especially in the approach called neurobics. For example, in the book Keeping Your Brain Alive, the authors suggest:

  • Wake up and smell the vanilla: Release the smell of an extract (vanilla, citrus, peppermint or rosemary) just as you awake every morning for a week.
  • The scent of music: Sniff specific odors while listening to a song to stimulate novel sensory associations in your brain.

Scent can be delivered from simple cotton balls, plug-in devices, sprays or oils spread by small fans in low-cost electric aromatherapy diffusers.  This makes it relatively easy to experiment with scents and cognitive performance.   For example, scenting a room while studying, taking sniffs of specific scents just before or after a mental task and so on.

Interested to hear from readers that use scent to boost performance or as part of a brain training routine.

12 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Mark Clare - January 22, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Categories: Memory and Learning, Mental Focus, Other   Tags: