Possessing a unique range of interests, Valerie Varnuska enjoys everything from trains and robotics to nature and travel. The Westbury, NY, resident is often reminded of her past through unique smells. When she smells fresh tar, Valerie Varnuska is reminded of summer road trips. The smell of skunk reminds her of fun hikes she has taken with friends.
The human sense of smell is linked to memory more closely than most of the other senses. When a new smell is received, the olfactory bulb processes it before sending it to the brain.
The olfactory bulb is connected to the hippocampus and amygdala, two components in the brain that are heavily involved in memory and emotion. This connection makes it easier for the brain to associate specific emotions and memories with certain smells.
Since no other senses pass through the hippocampus and amygdala, smell possesses the unique ability to invoke strong memories. This powerful association between smells and memories can be both a benefit and a hindrance.
Smells have been said to bring about the feeling of going back in time. As a result, emotions and memories can be recreated through smells.