The power of smell

Brain Rule #9 – Stimulate more of the senses at the same time. – John Medina, Brain Rules, 2008 

Smells . . . smells seem to bring back the most powerful memories. According to John Medina, this is because smells bypass the thalamus and head straight to the amygdala . . . right to the part of the brain that supervises emotions. This is why certain aromas take us right back to a certain experience . . . we are immediately overcome with a specific feeling.


From the smell of freshly cut grass to that fresh pine smell that brings us back to our childhood memories of Christmas. From the smell of a specific beach to the fragrance of your spouse’s perfume or cologne – smell evokes memories and emotion.


The more senses we stimulate at any given time the more likely we are to remember any given situation. The electrical signals that disperse throughout our brain are connected . . . they are hooks . . . and the more hooks the more deep-seated a memory becomes.


How does this relate to our work? Is this guy really suggesting we introduce smells into our work as teachers, leaders, and colleagues? Seriously?


No, I am not suggestion you walk around with cans of Axe or Glade to use during a meeting. I am suggesting that you go beyond simply connecting with words or presentations. Think about what you want people to remember – pairing multiple sensory approaches stimulate memory . . . it stimulates growth. From music to videos . . . from touch to hearing . . . from seeing to feeling . . . be purposeful and intentional in your approach. If you want people to remember, stimulate more of the senses at the same time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s