It’s no secret that the right smell can trigger powerful, complex memories and feelings that would otherwise have remained hidden in the recesses of one’s mind. Some people have exploited the power of fragrance to enhance the creation and re-experience of life memories, but a new study has found that a similar method can also be used to boost learning and improve one’s test results.
There’s a minor trend right now in which someone chooses a unique scent — perhaps one specially designed just for this purpose — and exposes themselves to this fragrance only during a certain activity or in a certain environment. Examples include people who use a certain rare scent during their wedding in hopes of associating it with the feelings of that day, enabling them to re-experience those feelings in the future whenever they smell the same fragrance.
This unique brain hack may also be an effective way to retain and recall certain information, according to a new study out of the University of Freiburg. As part of the project, more than four dozen 6th graders were instructed to place rose-scented fragrance sticks on the desk where they studied their schoolwork and to place another rose-scented fragrance stick on the stand next to the bed where they slept at night.
The students were tasked with learning vocabulary words as part of this study. Later on after the studying and sleeping processes had taken place (in the presence of the same fragrance), the students took a vocabulary test during school; the same fragrance sticks were placed on their desks while they took the test.
The results, according to the study, indicated ‘a significant increase in learning success’ in the students who studied and slept with the same scent. This method boosted their learning by around 30-percent, according to the researchers, but only if the fragrance was used during study and sleep. The researchers point out that because the effect worked even with the fragrance present the entire night, it’s something anyone could reproduce at home.
The full study can be found on Scientific Reports.