Friday, March 19, 2010


I once heard that the best memory system running in human body is the olfactory system. To some extent, this idea may be true because whenever I read a novel, a description of a good-looking and charming protagonist usually contains something about his or her scent. For example, let’s look into the characters of Stephanie Meyer’s best-selling novel, the Twilight series. Edward Cullen, the impeccable, beautiful, breathtaking and humane (for he is a vegetarian vampire which means that he does not drink human blood) vampire attracted the heroine, Isabella Swan, not only with his surreal beauty, but also with his cool, attractive breath. On the other hand, Bella Swan drives this beautiful vampire to delirium with her luscious, mouthwatering lilac scent of her blood. Well, this applies to normal, human girls and boys as well. Of course women will be attracted to men who smell good rather than some men who smell like a mass of decomposing molds. As for girls, I think girls are usually successful in attracting the guys smell-wise—better hygiene, more grooming time, better pheromones, whatever.

Considering these powerful effect of our olfactory memory and impressions, I thought it deserves some attention for this post. A study done by Linda Buck, an associate professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, says that sensors cells in nose do not last a lifetime, but are regenerated every 30-60 days in humans. The new nerve cells reach out to find their way back to the same spots in the olfactory bulb to which their precursors were connected. Thus, the pathway of odor map are constantly renewed, but the memory itself remains relatively unchanged. So, if smell can create such powerful memory upon people, a bit of fragrant aroma every morning right before work or school can do the trick for the day.

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