Have you ever walked past a certain aroma and instantly experienced a flashback to your childhood? This happens because smells that enter your body have a direct link to your memory center.
When you hear, touch or taste something, that information passes through the thalamus, the part of the brain that relays sensory information, before reaching its correlated part of the brain. As such, you’re aware of the sense before you’re aware of the memory or emotion it corresponds to.
Smells, however, bypass the thalamus and head straight to the olfactory bulb, which is directly connected to the hippocampus (which is responsible for your memory) and the amygdala (where you process your emotions). Because odors are first routed through these regions before reaching the thalamus, they’re more closely linked to memory. This explains why aromatherapy can have a profound effect on our emotional, physical and mental state.
In fact, this study finds that certain scents that evoke positive autobiographical memories may be able to also lift the mood and reduce stress. There are scores of other studies that show scents affect things like memory, concentration, sustained attention and cognitive function to improve productivity.
To help you work, here are the most powerful aromatherapies to boost your performance in the workplace.