Making Scents of the Brain: Smells and Memory

smells and memoryDoes the smell of hot chocolate remind you of cozy afternoons with your grandma? Or a certain perfume takes you back to snuggling with your mom? Research shows that scents can immediately evoke strong memories and connotations, and we all have anecdotal evidence too. Just a whiff of a smell can affect mood and instantly transport you to a time and place. SensoryCo works with museums, theaters, theme parks and other businesses to provide a range of scent effects tying smells and memory that create immersive sensory experiences and marketing opportunities as well.

Scents in the Brain
How are such strong emotions and memories triggered by a small sensory cue? Research shows that there is an important link in the anatomy of the brain. The olfactory lobe, which processes incoming smells, runs from the nose into the bottom of the brain. The olfactory lobe has direct connections with the amygdala and the hippocampus, which are both strongly tied to memory and emotion. It’s even noted that visual, auditory and tactile information doesn’t run through these areas, which may explain way smells create such strong triggers of memory.

How Scent Affects Experience
Adding scent effects to otherwise traditional experiences takes those events to the next level. In a culture that is now used to constant information and is expecting more and more thrills and stimulation, the bar is set for ultimate immersion. The introduction of scent effects can “complete” an experience. Where you have previously experienced sights and sounds, the addition of scents can create a sort of virtual reality.

Smells and Memory in Multisensory Immersive Experiences
At theme parks, attractions and museums, SensoryCo has provided a range of scents, creating next-level immersive experiences. At one of the most innovative entertainment facilities, SEGA Orbi in Japan, cutting edge technology combines the incredible visuals of BBC Earth with state-of-the-art audio and SensoryCo’s unique scent effects to create an exceptional experience: the view of a volcano, the sound of the eruption and the smell of sulfur help viewers “lose themselves” in the experience. Similarly, at various museums, SensoryCo scent effects add that extra dimension to exhibits such as the smell of fresh bread in a 1950’s kitchen. Older visitors are quickly “taken back” to those memories, while younger visitors can better imagine those times. Theme parks are also using SensoryCo scent effects to add thrills and create a sense of place. Rides are enhanced with the smells of the theme; a scary ride may smell of smoke or burning rubber, and a children’s ride may smell of candy or other sweets.

Using Smells and Memory for Marketing
Scent effects have become very popular in marketing for good reason. Including smells can trigger a range of emotions regarding a product or service leading to brand awareness and loyalty. Businesses also use smells to boost mood while customers shop and even keep them in a store longer. Experiential marketing combines auditory, visual and olfactory input to create an immersive experience helping to connect those “feel good” memories to a product or service.

Scent effects are still on the edges of technology and experience, and SensoryCo is an innovator in using these effects to harness smells and memory for next level entertainment and marketing. With a unique range of custom aromas and scent generators, SensoryCo will partner with you to create memorable experiences for your customers.

About the author

Bryan Roe Author: Bryan Roe is the founder and President of SensoryCo, a leader in atmospheric special effects for experiential and 4D environments. SensoryCo designs and delivers special effects systems - creating realistic smells and smoke and weather effects such as mist, rain, haze, heat, and wind. Through these developments, Bryan offers an unparalleled experience for both immersive training solutions and entertainment effects. Google