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Olfaction and emotion: The case of autobiographical memory


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This study investigated (1) the influence of verbal and conceptual processing on the retrieval and phenomenological evaluation of olfactory evoked memories, and (2) whether the experienced qualities of retrieved information are affected by olfactory exposure per se. Seventy-two older adults were randomized into one of three cue conditions (odor only, name only, or odor name) and asked to relate any autobiographical event for the given cue. The results indicated that semantic knowledge of an odor's name significantly affects the age distribution of memories such that the memory peak in childhood observed for odors only was attenuated. Also, experiential factors such as pleasantness and feelings of being brought back in time were lower when odors were presented with their respective names. Olfactory evoked memories were associated with a higher emotional arousal that could not be accounted for by the perceptual stimulation alone. Taken together, the overall pattern of findings suggests that retrieval of olfactory evoked information is sensitive to semantic and conceptual processing, and that odor-evoked representations are more emotional than memories triggered by verbal information.
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Research suggests that memories triggered by olfactory
information are different than memories evoked by verbal
and visual information (e.g., Herz & Schooler, 2002; Wil-
lander & Larsson, 2006). For example, it is well established
that verbal cuing of memories generates a reminiscence
bump between the age of 10–30 years at event (e.g., Conway
& Haque, 1999; Rubin, 1982; Rubin & Schulkind, 1997;
Rubin, Rahhal, & Poon, 1998). However, in contrast with a
memory peak in young adulthood, olfactory cued memories
have been localized to the first decade of life indicating that
odor representations are older than verbal and visual ones
(Chu & Downes, 2000; Willander & Larsson, 2006).
Likewise, evidence suggests that the phenomenological
experience of olfactory memory differs from the process-
ing of other sensory information. For example, the feeling
of being brought back in time to the occurrence of the
event is experienced as stronger for odor-cued memories
than memories evoked by words and pictures (Herz, 2004;
Herz & Schooler, 2002; Willander & Larsson, 2006).
Also, some research suggests that odor evoked memories
may be experienced as more emotional than memories
cued by other sensory modalities (e.g., Herz, 1998; Herz
& Cupchik, 1995; Herz, Eliassen, Beland, & Souza, 2004;
Herz & Schooler, 2002), although other work has failed
to replicate these observations (Ehrlichman & Bastone,
1992; Willander & Larsson, 2006). A possible explana-
tion for these discrepant findings may be methodologi-
cal differences across studies such that the experiential
qualities have been assessed in conjunction with the
olfactory stimulation or after the stimulus presentation
(Herz & Schooler, 2002; Willander & Larsson, 2006).
Thus, previous results reporting an advantage of odors
as cues to emotional autobiographical memories may be
a result of participants evaluating the olfactory cue rather
than the retrieved memory. The underlying assumption
for the advantage of odors as cues to emotional memo-
ries is the direct synapsing from the olfactory areas to the
amygdala–hippocampal complex, the neuronal substrate
of emotional memory (Herz et al., 2004; Packard, Cahill,
& McGaugh, 1994; Savic, Gulyàs, Larsson, & Roland,
2000). Because passive smelling of odors may influence
the emotional arousal in individuals (e.g., Lehrner, Mar-
winski, Lehr, Johren, & Deecke, 2005; Savic et al., 2000),
without memory recollection, it is of interest to investigate
the role played by olfactory perception in the recollection
and phenomenological evaluation of retrieved memories
(cf. Chu & Downes, 2002; Herz & Schooler, 2002).
An unexplored question concerns whether verbal and
conceptual processing has an impact on the age distribution
of olfactory-evoked memories. A review of related evidence
suggests that olfactory perception is influenced by verbal
knowledge of an odor. For example, Distel and Hudson
(2001) showed that intensity, pleasantness, and familiar-
ity ratings were higher when odor judgments were done in
conjunction with a verbal label as compared with a no-label
condition. Also, Herz and von Clef (2001) reported higher
positive judgments in pleasantness, intensity, and familiarity
when an identical odor was presented with a positive label
(i.e., Parmesan cheese) as compared with a negative label
(i.e., vomit). In a similar vein, research also indicates that
semantic olfactory knowledge, such as perceived familiarity
and identifiability are positively related to episodic retention
1659 Copyright 2007 Psychonomic Society, Inc.
Olfaction and emotion: The case of
autobiographical memory
Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
This study investigated (1) the influence of verbal and conceptual processing on the retrieval and phenomeno-
logical evaluation of olfactory evoked memories, and (2) whether the experienced qualities of retrieved informa-
tion are affected by olfactory exposure per se. Seventy-two older adults were randomized into one of three cue
conditions (odor only, name only, or odor name) and asked to relate any autobiographical event for the given
cue. The results indicated that semantic knowledge of an odor’s name significantly affects the age distribution
of memories such that the memory peak in childhood observed for odors only was attenuated. Also, experiential
factors such as pleasantness and feelings of being brought back in time were lower when odors were presented
with their respective names. Olfactory evoked memories were associated with a higher emotional arousal that
could not be accounted for by the perceptual stimulation alone. Taken together, the overall pattern of findings
suggests that retrieval of olfactory evoked information is sensitive to semantic and conceptual processing, and
that odor-evoked representations are more emotional than memories triggered by verbal information.
Memory & Cognition
2007, 35 (7), 1659-1663
J. Willander,
1660 W
ularly replaced to ensure freshness. Words (i.e., the names of the
odors) were printed in Arial (size 100 points, lowercase) and pre-
sented on a 12-in. LCD computer screen.
Experiential Ratings
The retrieved memories were rated on the following six dimen-
sions: (1) How pleasant is the event at this moment? (2) How intense
is the event at this moment? (3) How strong is the feeling of being
brought back in time to the occurrence of the event? (4) How vivid is
the memory of the event? (5) How emotional do you experience the
remembered event at this moment? (6) From what point of view did
you recall the event? For Question 1, a 9-point Likert scale (1 very
unpleasant, 5 neutral, 9 very pleasant) was used. For Questions
2 to 5, a 9-point Likert scale (1 not at all, 9 very much) was used.
Question 6 was assessed with the following three alternatives: (1) field
perspective, (2) observer perspective, (3) neither field or observer per-
spective. The third option was included because some participants
were unable to choose a perspective (i.e., field or observer).
All subjects were tested individually and were randomly assigned
to one of the three cue conditions: name only (n 24; 16 women,
8 men), odor only (n 24; 17 women, 7 men), or odor name (n
24; 17 women, 7 men). Participants in the odor-only condition were
presented with 20 odors and asked to relate any autobiographical
event for the given cue. In instances when a memory was retrieved,
the participant was asked to write down a short description of the
event, and to rate its experiential attributes (see above). The same
instructions and rating procedure were applied in the name-only
condition, with one exception; here subjects were exposed to only
names. Participants in the odor-name condition were presented with
both an odor and its congruent name. Here, the participants were
asked to retrieve autobiographical events for each pair of items. The
participants were instructed to direct an equal amount of attention
to both of the cues. The respective odor name was presented on the
computer screen in conjunction with the presentation of the odor.
The rating procedure in the odor-name condition was the same as
in the name-only and odor-only conditions, with the exception that
the subjects were exposed to both the odor and its congruent name.
Across conditions, thirty seconds were allowed for retrieval. When
all cues had been presented the memories were dated according to
the participants’ age at event.
Importantly, each participant received 20 stimuli and the evoked
memories were rated immediately after retrieval. For half of the cues
(n 10), the ratings were done in presence of the respective retrieval
cue, and for the other half (n 10) the ratings were done without
cues. The two rating formats were counterbalanced across partici-
pants in order to prevent potential effects of presentation order. In
addition, each participant was given a unique randomized item pre-
sentation order. The rating procedure was followed by distribution of
the questionnaire concerning health status and sensory aptitude.
The Number of Memories
The number of evoked memories across the three cue
conditions (i.e., odor only, name only, odor name) was
analyzed with a two-way ANOVA with cue condition and
gender as between-groups factors. The results from the
ANOVA showed that the number of elicited memories var-
ied over cue type [F(2,66) 3.10, p .05]. Specifically,
Tukey post hoc comparisons showed that the name-only
(M 9.46, SD 4.05) and odor-name (M 10.79, SD
4.20) conditions triggered equal number of memories, but
more than the odor-only condition (M 7.58, SD 4.26).
The effect of gender was not significant (F 1).
of olfactory information, suggesting that odor recognition
may be a joint product of perceptual, semantic and episodic
information (Larsson, 1997; Larsson & Bäckman, 1997).
Given that autobiographical odor memory draws on epi-
sodic memory, it is of interest to explore whether verbal
processes also influence the recollection of autobiograph-
ical olfactory information. In the present work, this topic
was examined by cuing subjects with odors in conjunc-
tion with their respective names, as contrasted with two
control conditions where subjects only received names or
odors. In this way, we could evaluate the potential effects
of cue format on age distributions and phenomenological
experience of autobiographical memories.
An additional aim was to investigate vantage point selec-
tion in autobiographical odor memory. Recent research has
highlighted two different modes of remembering referred
to as field and observer vantage points (Georgia & Neis-
ser, 1996; McIsaac & Eich, 2002). The former refers to a
recollection in which subjects envision the event as if see-
ing it again with their own eyes. In the latter, persons take
the perspective of a detached spectator (Georgia & Neisser,
1996). Field memories have shown to comprise more af-
fective reactions and physiological states, whereas observer
memories include more information about physical appear-
ance and object locations (McIsaac & Eich, 2002). Given
that vantage point selection is totally unexplored in autobio-
graphical odor memory we wanted to highlight this experi-
ential factor and its relation to olfactory cued memories.
Thus, the main aims of this study were to investigate
whether (1) verbal and conceptual processing influence
the age distribution and phenomenological qualities of ol-
factory evoked memories; and to elucidate whether (2) the
experiential qualities of retrieved information are influ-
enced by olfactory perception.
Seventy-two healthy volunteers (22 men and 50 women) between
65–80 years (M 71.69, SD 4.40) participated. An older age
cohort was chosen because of the possibility to investigate whole life-
span memory distributions. The participants were recruited through
senior citizen organizations in the Stockholm and Uppsala areas. All
participants reported being in good health as indicated by their self-
rated health (M 3.69, SD .88) (5-point scale where 1 very poor
and 5 very good). Also, participants rated their visual, auditory, and
olfactory aptitude on a 5-point scale where 1 very poor and 5
very good. The specific questions posed were: How good or bad is
your vision/olfaction/hearing as compared with other persons of your
own age? All subjects had sufficient visual (M 3.11, SD 1.0), au-
ditory (M 3.21, SD .90), and olfactory (M 3.14, SD 1.1) ca-
pacities in order to manage the sensory demands of the experiment.
Twenty stimuli were used as test materials and assigned to one of
two test sets. Each set consisted of 10 items. Based on previous data
(Willander & Larsson, 2006) the two sets of items were constructed
so that they would potentially elicit an equal amount of memories. The
two test sets comprised the following items: (1) tar, glühwein (mulled
wine), clove, whisky, snuff, black currant, chlorine, tobacco, bitter
almond, violet; and (2) salubrin (antiseptic), soft soap, cinnamon, lini-
ment, red wine, soap, lily of the valley, anise, cardamom, beer.
All odorants were kept in nontranslucent glass jars and covered
with cotton pads to prevent visual inspection. The odors were reg-
The Distribution of Memories Over
the Life Span
For each participant, the number of evoked memories
dated to a specific decade was divided by the subject’s total
number of memories. The proportions were then submitted
to a mixed two-way ANOVA with cue type as between-
groups factor, and decade as within-group factor. The
analysis yielded a main effect of decade [F(7,63) 12.18,
p .001]. Post hoc testing showed that a higher proportion
of memories were located to the first two decades as com-
pared to the third to eight decades. Also, more memories
were overall localized to the first than to the second decade.
Interestingly, the interaction between cue type and decade
was significant [F(14,126) 1.76, p .05]. The source
of this interaction was related to the first decade where
more memories were generated in the odor-only condition
as compared to the name-only condition. The amount of
memories generated in the odor-name and odor-only con-
ditions, and odor-name and name-only conditions did not
differ reliably (ps .05). No other comparisons were reli-
able. The age distributions across the three cue conditions
are displayed in Figure 1. Given the unbalanced number of
men and women across the three conditions meaningful
gender analyses could not be performed.
Experiential Ratings
The experiential data for the evoked memories across
the two conditions (rating with the cue/rating without the
cue) were submitted to a 3 (cue type) r 2 (rating condi-
tion) mixed ANOVA. The first factor varied between sub-
jects and the second within subjects.
The ANOVA on rated pleasantness (valence) revealed a
main effect of cue type [F(2,69) 5.18, p .01]. Tukey
post hoc analysis indicated that odor-only evoked memories
(M 6.43, SD 1.74) were rated as more pleasant than the
name-only evoked memories (M 5.49, SD 1.38). The
memories evoked by odor names (M 5.97, SD 1.11) did
not differ from odor-only or name-only evoked memories on
rated pleasantness. The main effect of rating condition was
not significant (p .70). No interaction effect between cue
type and rating condition was observed (p .30).
A main effect of cue type was demonstrated for emo-
tionality [F(2,69) 3.59, p .05]. Tukey post hoc com-
parisons indicated that memories evoked in the odor-only
condition were more emotional (M 5.22, SD 2.00) as
compared to the name-only (M 4.01, SD 1.54) and
odor-name (M 4.23, SD 1.80) conditions. The name-
only and odor-name conditions did not differ reliably. No
main effect of rating condition was observed (p .20).
The interaction between cue type and rating condition was
not significant (ps .90).
Cue type had a reliable effect on the feeling of being
brought back in time to the occurrence of the event
[F(2,69) 4.30, p .05]. The odor-only evoked memo-
ries (M 6.66, SD 1.39) were experienced with a stron-
ger feeling of being brought back in time as compared
with memories evoked by name-only (M 5.68, SD
1.28) or odor-name cues (M 5.91, SD 1.61). Ratings
in the name-only and odor-name conditions did not dif-
Proportion of Memories
Age at Event (years)
0–10 11–20 21–30 31–40 41–50 51–60 61–70 71–80
Proportion of Memories
Age at Event (years)
Proportion of Memories
Age at Event (years)
0–10 11–20 21–30 31–40 41–50 51–60 61–70 71–80
0–10 11–20 21–30 31–40 41–50 51–60 61–70 71–80
Figure 1. The distribution of (A) odor-only-, (B) name-only-,
and (C) odor-name-evoked autobiographical memories across
the life span. Error bars indicate 1 standard error.
1662 W
tically different from the age distributions obtained for nei-
ther the name-only or odor-only cue conditions. A similar
pattern was observed for the phenomenological qualities,
such that perceived pleasantness, emotionality, and feel-
ings of being brought back in time were lower when odors
were presented with their respective names as compared
to when only an odor was presented. Indeed, when par-
ticipants were aware of the odor’s identity, the experiential
ratings did not differ from the ones obtained for names.
These observations suggest that olfactory knowledge pro-
duces a shift from a perceptual to a more conceptually
driven retrieval process (cf. Herz, 2000, 2003). Given that
the present findings suggest that different types of sensory
cues recruit different types of retrieval processes, it is of
interest to consider postulated retrieval models of auto-
biographical memory information. Notably, Conway and
Pleydell-Pearce (2000) distinguished between two different
retrieval processes of autobiographical memory: strategic
and automatic. In strategic retrieval, cues entail an inten-
tional cyclic and elaborative search process of information
in memory until a specific memory is formed, a process
that has been associated with verbal cues (Haque & Con-
way, 2001). In automatic retrieval, recollection is direct
and effortless and immediately activates a representation
of an event in memory. To the extent that odors presented
with labels primarily were experienced as verbal items,
the present observations suggest that participants in the
odor-name condition engaged in a more strategic retrieval
process, whereas, a presentation based on odors alone may
have induced a more direct and automatic activation of
sensory-specific autobiographical information (Conway &
Pleydell-Pearce, 2000). Moreover, the analysis on the num-
ber of memories triggered over the three different cue types
showed that more memories were generated when a verbal
cue was present (i.e., the name-only and odor-name condi-
tions) and fewer memories were accessed when only an
odor served as a retrieval cue. This outcome suggests that
fer reliably (p .90). Rating condition did not reach the
level of significance and the interaction effect between
cue type and rating condition did not influence the feel-
ings of being brought back in time (ps .20).
Regarding vividness no main effect of cue type or inter-
action effect between cue type and rating condition were
statistically reliable (ps .30). However, a main effect of
rating condition was found for vividness [F(1,69) 4.76,
p .05] such that rating with the cue (M 6.65, SD
1.51) produced higher vividness ratings as compared to
ratings without the cue (M 6.33, SD 1.61).
Finally, for the intensity ratings no reliable main effects
of cue type or rating condition (ps .30) were observed.
Also, the interaction was not reliable (p .10).
The vantage point proportions were submitted to a two-
way mixed ANOVA with cue type (i.e., odor only, name
only, and odor name) as between-group factor and vantage
point (i.e., field, observer, or neither) as within-group fac-
tor. The mean proportions of the vantage point ratings are
displayed in Table 1. The ANOVA showed a main effect of
vantage point [F(2,68) 114.77, p 001]. Post hoc test-
ing indicated that more memories were experienced with a
field perspective rather than an observer perspective, that
in turn were more common than events categorized as nei-
ther. The interaction effect was not significant (p .80).
In agreement with previous findings, the present work
suggests that odor-evoked memories are different from
other memory experiences. Events evoked by olfactory
information were older than memories associated with
verbal information (Willander & Larsson, 2006). Also,
odor-evoked memories were experienced as more emo-
tional and pleasant, and associated with stronger feel-
ings of being brought back in time as compared to events
evoked by verbal cues (Chu & Downes, 2000; Herz &
Cupchik, 1995; Herz & Schooler, 2002). Of more interest
however, were the observations that the age distribution,
the phenomenological qualities, and the number of evoked
memories were affected by explicit knowledge of the pro-
vided odor cue. This outcome suggests that conceptual
processes may have a significant influence on the retrieval
of autobiographical olfactory information.
Specifically, when odors were presented together with
its congruent name, the age distribution of memories for
the first three decades was significantly affected such that
the memory peak in childhood observed for odors only was
attenuated. In fact, knowledge of an odor’s name resulted
in a distribution taking an intermediate position; not statis-
Tabl e 1
Mean Proportions (With Standard Deviations) of Vantage
Points As a Function of Cue Type
Cue Type
Odor Only Name Only Odor Name
Vantage Point M SD M SD M SD
Field .73 .26 .78 .24 .69 .29
Observer .20 .23 .17 .22 .24 .25
Neither .07 .19 .05 .07 .07 .22
Mean Experimental Rating
Pleasantness Brought Back Emotionality
Odor only
Odor name
Name only
Figure 2. Experiential ratings across cue type. Error bars indi-
cate 1 standard error.
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(Manuscript received April 19, 2006;
revision accepted for publication January 12, 2007.)
verbal cues overall are more efficient reminders of past
experiences. Taken together, the overall pattern of findings
suggests that retrieval of olfactory evoked information is
sensitive to semantic and conceptual processing.
The results of this study support the notion that olfac-
tory evoked memories are more emotional than memories
evoked by verbal cues (Chu & Downes, 2002; Herz, 2004;
Herz & Cupchik, 1995). As noted above, evidence is
equivocal regarding whether it is the memory by itself that
is more emotional or whether it is the perceptual proper-
ties of the olfactory cue that produce the higher emotional
arousal. In the present work, reexposure of the target cue
during rating did not significantly alter the phenomeno-
logical evaluations of the retrieved events. This observa-
tion suggests that olfactory evoked memories themselves
are associated with a higher emotional response and that
the perceptual stimulation alone cannot account for the
higher emotional arousal.
As noted above, recent work has highlighted two differ-
ent modes of remembering denoted field and observer van-
tage points. In congruence with other research addressing
vantage point selection in autobiographical memory, our
findings indicated that retrieved events, irrespective of cue
type, were experienced from a field rather than from an
observer perspective (D’Argembeau, Comblain, & Van der
Linden, 2003). Also, taking a field rather than an observer
perspective has been associated with more affective and
emotional reactions. Given that vantage point selection did
not vary across the different cue types, the present results
may reflect a general emotional tone in recollected events.
Taken together, the results of this study indicate that
retrieval of olfactory evoked information is sensitive to
semantic and conceptual processing. Specifically, the
age distribution, the phenomenological qualities, and the
number of evoked memories were significantly affected
by explicit knowledge of a provided odor cue. Also, the
outcome of this study supports the notion that olfactory
evoked memory representations are more emotional than
memories triggered by verbal information.
This work was supported by Swedish Research Council Grant
F0647/2001 to M.L. The authors thank Mats J. Olsson and Fredrik Jöns-
son for Uppsala lab space. Also, hearty thanks to all of the devoted par-
ticipants in the Autobiographical Memory Project II. Correspondence
concerning this article should be addressed to J. Willander, Stockholm
University, Department of Psychology, Frescati Hagväg 14, SE-106 91
Stockholm, Sweden (e-mail:
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... While vision is a primary modality [54], sounds and smells also provide adaptive information that may give rise to emotional experiences (e.g., of alarm, fear, and anger). Smell may elicit emotions and cue memories of past experiences (e.g., the smell of a spring rain amid blooming flowers cues memories of past spring times [53,55]. Similarly, changes in the loudness and pitch of natural sounds like rainfall induce changes in human emotions [56,57]. ...
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We review the emergence of digital weather information, the history of human embodied knowing about weather, and two perspectives on cognition, one of which is symbolic (amodal, abstract, and arbitrary) and the other being embodied (embodied, extended, embedded, and enacted) to address the question: Beyond the general weather information they provide, to what extent can digital devices be used in an embodied way to extend a person’s pick-up of weather information? This is an interesting question to examine because human weather information and knowledge has a long past in our evolutionary history. Our human ancestors had to pick-up immediate information from the environment (including the weather) to survive. Digital weather information and knowing has a comparatively short past and a promising future. After reviewing these relevant topics, we concluded that, with the possible exception of weather radar apps, nothing currently exists in the form of digital products than can extend the immediate sensory reach of people to alert them about just-about-to-occur weather—at least not in the embodied forms of information. We believe that people who are weather salient (i.e., have a strong psychological attunement to the weather) may be in the best position going forward to integrate digital weather knowing with that which is embodied.
... For example, the guests at a number of Sensatori resorts are given a bottle of the resort's signature scent (TUI Sensatori Scent) on departure (e.g., at their Rhodes resort opened in 2018 7 ; see also Kilikita, 2018, for another example of scented memories of a tourist destination). By offering the guest the opportunity to take away the distinctive scent of the resort it will likely allow them to access more of the latter's hopefully pleasurable memories, just like the Proustian moment (see Chu and Downes, 2000;Chu and Downes, 2002;Willander and Larsson, 2007). Bear in mind here only the fact that Zemke and Shoemaker (2007) found that a hotel's signature scent had a considerable and positive effect on guests' ability to recall their enjoyable hotel experiences. ...
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This narrative review discusses the literature on contemporary sensory marketing as it applies to hotel design. The role of each of the guest’s senses in the different stages of the customer journey are highlighted, and the functional benefits (to the guest’s multisensory experience), and likely commercial gains, of engaging more effectively with the guest’s non-visual senses, both individually, and in combination, are reviewed. While the visual elements of hotel design are undoubtedly important, the hotelier neglects the non-visual senses at their peril, given the negative effect of poor design on the customers’ overall multisensory experience (and ratings). A number of the crossmodal effects and multisensory interactions that have been suggested to modulate the guest’s experience of hotels (and resorts) are discussed. Mention is also made of the nature effect/biophilic design and how it is increasingly being incorporated in total design to help deliver on guest/customer well-being; the latter is a theme that has grown rapidly in relevance for those working in the hospitality sector. Taken together, there are numerous opportunities for hotel managers to ‘sensehack’ their guests’ multisensory experiences through environmental psychology The originality of this review stems from the analysis of the hierarchy of the guest’s senses and an explanation of how multisensory interactions affect sensory marketing in the design of hotel experiences for guests.
... Brain areas supporting olfaction are the only sensory structures that directly relay to the amygdala and entorhinal cortex, involved in emotion processing and memory (Doty, 2001;Wilson et al., 2004), suggesting that there may be a neurobiological explanation for why odours could be especially powerful cues for retrieving emotional memories. Indeed, some studies have shown that odour-evoked memories are experienced as more emotional (Arshamian et al., 2013;Chu and Downes, 2002;Herz, 2004;Herz et al., 2004;Herz and Schooler, 2002;Willander and Larsson, 2007) compared to those evoked by verbal and/or visual cues. However, findings are inconsistent as in other studies odour cues have shown to be outperformed (Miles and Berntsen, 2011;Toffolo et al., 2012;Willander et al., 2015;Willander and Larsson, 2006). ...
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A myriad of clinical theories places emotional memory or mental representations at the root of mental disorders. Various cognitive-behavioural interventions are based on the assumption that targeting the underlying emotional memory is the working mechanism of treatment efficacy. To test the assumptions about the role of emotional memory in the development, maintenance, and treatment of mental disorders, we first need to establish ecologically valid paradigms that can induce emotional memory in the lab. For this, we used the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), a standardized protocol to elicit social distress, paired with a neutral unfamiliar ambient odour, to create a sensory-rich and personally meaningful episodic experience. Seven days later, participants (N = 132) reactivated the memory of the TSST with the aid of auditory, olfactory, and visual retrieval cues, during which their heart rate and self-reported affective responses were collected. Although increases in heart rate were only observed during encoding, and not at retrieval, self-report ratings showed that cues which directly referred to the aversive experience evoked more negative valence, arousal, and feelings of lack of control during memory reactivation compared to control cues across sensory modalities. These findings are indicative of successful memory induction and corroborate the utility of ambient odours as retrieval aids. Moreover, the self-reported response to the reactivated emotional memory correlated with individual differences in indices of (social) anxiety and depression. Thereby, we provide preliminary evidence of the translational significance of this paradigm that offers potential for being a model to induce ecologically valid emotional memory in the lab.
... Geruch hat für uns eine starke emotionale Komponente, wir "können jemanden nicht riechen" und "riechen etwas 100 Meilen gegen den Wind". Manche Gerüche können Erinnerungen mit positiven oder negativen Emotionen in uns hervorrufen (Willander und Larsson, 2007). Viele vegetative und hormonelle Prozesse werden unbewusst durch den Geruchssinn gesteuert, so beeinflusst der Geruchssinn auch unsere Sexualität und Partnerwahl (Jacob et al., 2002). ...
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Hintergrund und Ziele Die zeitliche und räumliche zentrale Verarbeitung intranasaler trigeminaler Reize ist bisher unvollständig untersucht. Ziel dieser Studie war es, die zeitliche Abfolge der neuronalen Aktivierung mit Hilfe der Magnetoenzephalografie darzustellen. Um ge­sunde Versuchspersonen auszuwählen, die keinerlei Riech­- oder Schmeckstörung aufweisen, wurden standardisierte, psychophysische Testverfahren angewendet. Methoden (Patienten, Material und Untersuchungsmethoden) 10 Versuchspersonen wurde mit dem Olfaktometer gasförmiges Kohlenstoffdioxid über die rechte Nasenseite verabreicht. Die eventbezogenen Felder wurden mit einem 248­-Ganzkopf­-Magnetometer aufgezeichnet und durch Magnetic Source Imaging ein funktionell­-anatomisches Gehirnmodell erstellt. Zum Ausschluss einer Riech-­ oder Schmeckstörung wurde eine Anamnese erhoben, ein Fragebogen ausgefüllt und Sniffin’ Sticks-­ und Taste Strip­-Tests durchgeführt. Ergebnisse und Beobachtungen Keine Versuchsperson wies eine Riech-­ oder Schmeckstörung auf. Es ließen sich wiederkehrende Aktivierungen beidseits im primären und sekundären somatosensorischen Kortex, im Bulbus/Traktus olfaktorius, primären olfaktorischen Kortex, präfrontalen Kortex, limbischen System (Amygdala, Hippocampus und G. parahip­pocampalis), Insula, Motorkortex und supplementären Motorregionen, parietalen Assoziationskortizes und Temporallappen ableiten. Es zeigte sich überwiegend eine erhöhte Anzahl und signifikant frühere Aktivierungen auf der linken, kontralateralen Gehirnhälfte. (Praktische) Schlussfolgerungen und Diskussion Die Studie gibt Auskunft über die zeitliche Abfolge der neuronalen Aktivierung und zeigt wie erwartet Aktivierungen im primären und sekundären somatosensorischen Kortex. Es konnten erstmals Aktivierungen im Bulbus und Traktus olfaktorius sowie im primären olfaktorischen Kortex nachgewiesen werden. Dies zeigt erneut das starke Überlappen und die komplexe Interaktion des olfaktorischen und des intranasalen trigeminalen Systems.
... We outline possible mechanisms of the regeneration of the olfactory system and summarize the findings of OT potential to enhance smell functions in healthy individuals. Finally, as the sense of smell is closely related to cognition and emotions (Croy and Hummel, 2017;Willander and Larsson, 2007), we discuss studies employing OT as a tool to improve psychological functions. The aim of this review is to bring OT to the general scientific and public interest and raise awareness of the possibilities to improve olfactory function. ...
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The sense of smell is interrelated with psychosocial functioning. Olfactory disorders often decrease quality of life but treatment options for people with olfactory loss are limited. Additionally, olfactory loss accompanies and precedes psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. Regular, systematic exposure to a set of odors, i.e., olfactory training (OT) has been offered for rehabilitation of the sense of smell in clinical practice. As signals from the olfactory bulb are directly projected to the limbic system it has been also debated whether OT might benefit psychological functioning, i.e., mitigate cognitive deterioration or improve emotional processing. In this review we synthesize key findings on OT utility in the clinical practice and highlight the molecular, cellular, and neuroanatomical changes accompanying olfactory recovery in people with smell loss as well as in experimental animal models. We discuss how OT and its modifications have been used in interventions aiming to support cognitive functions and improve well-being. We delineate main methodological challenges in research on OT and suggest areas requiring further scientific attention.
... Evidence for the emotional potency of odor-evoked memories comes from studies using self-reported measures (e.g., [19]), as well as neuroimaging data [20]. Neuroanatomically, the olfactory system is connected to almost all parts of the limbic system-the part of the human brain associated with emotion regulation and experience and memory [21,22]. ...
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This paper presents an Artificial Intelligence approach to mining context and emotions related to olfactory cultural heritage narratives, particularly to fairy tales. We provide an overview of the role of smell and emotions in literature, as well as highlight the importance of olfactory experience and emotions from psychology and linguistic perspectives. We introduce a methodology for extracting smells and emotions from text, as well as demonstrate the context-based visualizations related to smells and emotions implemented in a novel smell tracker tool. The evaluation is performed using a collection of fairy tales from Grimm and Andersen. We find out that fairy tales often connect smell with the emotional charge of situations. The experimental results show that we can detect smells and emotions in fairy tales with an F1 score of 91.62 and 79.2, respectively.
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Older adults tend to remember past life events more positively than younger adults. This tendency is the age-related positivity effect. The present study examined whether this effect occurred for odor-evoked autobiographical memories. In total, 317 young and 181 older Japanese participants were asked to recall autobiographical events evoked by odors. Participants then completed the odor-evoked autobiographical memory questionnaire (OEAMQ) to measure the characteristics of the recalled memories. In the results, older participants recalled more positive memories than younger participants. Older participants also rated the OEAMQ subscales higher than the younger participants. Furthermore, there were significant positive correlations between the ratings of odor emotional characteristics and OEAMQ subscales. The age-related positivity effect was observed for odor-evoked autobiographical memories. The emotion aroused by odor played a significant role in some attributes of odor-evoked autobiographical memory. The age-related positivity effect in odor-evoked autobiographical memories has important implications for understanding the cognitive mechanisms of aging in autobiographical memory and olfaction and for applications in well-being and dementia in older adults.
La maladie d’Alzheimer (MA) est actuellement considérée comme un enjeu majeur de santé publique. Face à la stagnation des résultats issus des approches médicamenteuses, le développement et la validation de stratégies de prise en charge non médicamenteuses sont aujourd’hui particulièrement encouragées. Les odeurs et le regard direct (i.e. un regard dirigé vers soi qui aboutit à une situation de contact par le regard) sont deux indices contextuels connus pour avoir des influences bénéfiques communes sur la cognition normale. L’objectif de ces travaux de thèse est de déterminer si ces influences sont préservées dans le vieillissement normal et dans la MA débutante. Nous nous sommes attachées à déterminer notamment si, dans ces deux populations: i) le regard direct induit une évaluation plus positive d’autrui et améliore la mémoire des visages ainsi que des associations prénoms-visages, ii) les odeurs sont des indices pertinents pour stimuler la mémoire autobiographique, par rapport à d’autres indices sensoriels, iii) un effet cumulatif des odeurs et du regard direct sur l’évaluation d’autrui ainsi que sur la mémoire des visages peut être observé (données de ce dernier axe finalisées uniquement dans la population adulte jeune à ce jour). Nos travaux explorent ces questions à travers quatre études comportementales, dont une intégrant également des données d’oculométrie. Dans leur ensemble, nos résultats indiquent que les effets du regard direct sont préservés dans le vieillissement normale et la MA débutante: la perception d’un regard direct influence positivement l’évaluation d’autrui (étude 1), peut augmenter la mémoire des visages et la mémoire des prénoms (sans toutefois augmenter la mémoire de l’association visage-prénom – étude 2). Par ailleurs, dans ces populations, les stimuli olfactifs et visuels peuvent être considérés des outils de stimulation de la mémoire autobiographique plus pertinents que les stimuli auditifs (étude 3). Enfin, des données préliminaires de nature comportementale suggèrent une prédominance des effets des odeurs sur ceux du regard direct sur le plan de l’évaluation d’autrui chez les sujets jeunes (étude 4). La partie conclusive de cette thèse ouvre une réflexion sur les stratégies d’utilisation de ces indices dans un contexte clinique de stimulation cognitive des patients MA aux premiers stades de la maladie.
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Beloved objects are cherished and valued possessions that we feel attached to. Previous research has demonstrated that the functions of beloved objects change across a lifespan. However, beloved objects may not only be appreciated because of their functions but also because of their sensory qualities. We hypothesised that the sensory experiences with beloved objects show a developmental trajectory and that the proximal senses (touch, taste, smell) become less important across childhood and adolescence, while the distant senses (vision, hearing) become more important. Moreover, we assumed that the observed changes in the sensory experiences are associated with the corresponding changes of functions across life stages. Building on the idea that those (perceptual) aspects of our environment that are particularly important to us are preferentially stored in memory, we hypothesised that this developmental trajectory would also be reflected in retrospective accounts. Hence, participants (N = 225) were asked to remember beloved objects from early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence, to describe their functions and to answer questions regarding their sensory experiences with the objects. The mixed methods data analyses confirmed our hypotheses. Taken together, our study illustrates and underlines the importance of beloved objects for thinking, behaviour, memory, and identity.
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Odor-evoked autobiographical memory and related psychological changes have been evaluated based on several factors, such as emotionality, clarity, and re-experience. We developed the Function of Autobiographical Memories Evoked by Odor Scale (FAMOS) for older Japanese people as a new method for comprehensively evaluating the functions of odor-evoked autobiographical memory. We used the diary method; participants were instructed to record the contents of everyday involuntary autobiographical memories triggered by odor and complete the FAMOS. In Study 1, 600 older adults were surveyed to select items for the FAMOS and examine the factor structure. An exploratory factor analysis with PROMAX rotation using the maximum likelihood method resulted in four factors: (1) Evoking positive emotion, (2) Identity, (3) Facilitating communication, and (4) Coping with negative emotion. Sufficient reliability was demonstrated. In Study 2, the FAMOS's validity was examined in 600 older adults. We found significant correlations (Pearson) with the affective valence of odors, the Odor-evoked Autobiographical Memory Questionnaire, and other scales, confirming the validity of the FAMOS. In Study 3, the FAMOS was administered to 600 younger and 600 older adults; generational differences were compared for further validity. Older adults had higher “Evoking positive emotion,” “Identity,” and “Facilitating communication” scores on the FAMOS than younger adults, suggesting a fair degree of reliability and validity of the FAMOS.
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: To test the claim that odors are the 'best' cues to memory, several cross-modal experiments were conducted in which odors were compared with verbal, visual, tactile and musical stimuli as associated memory cues. Each experiment comprised two sessions (encoding and retrieval) separated by 48 hr. At the encoding session, a series of stimuli were incidentally associated to a set of emotionally arousing pictures. At the retrieval session, memory accu racy and emotionality were assessed. Across experiments, results revealed that odors were equivalent to other stimuli in their ability to elicit accurate recall, but that odor-evoked memories were always more emotional. Notably, emotional responses did not vary as a function of stimulus type at encoding. These data indicate that emotional saliency, rather than accuracy, is responsible for the impression that odors are superior reminders, and that retrieval processes (cf. encoding processes) are responsible for the distinctive emotionality of odor-evoked memories.
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In three autobiographical memory retrieval experiments participants reported the contents of consciousness to a probe presented at early and late points during retrieval. Classification of the protocols according to the specificity of the reported knowledge found that early in retrieval abstract knowledge predominated whereas at the later point, close to generation or formation of a memory, knowledge related to specific events was more frequent. For some memories very fast and full retrieval was observed at the early point and this was independent of other concurrent processing demands. These findings show that generative retrieval entails iterative access of autobiographical knowledge but this is not observed in direct retrieval.
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We investigated memory qualities for positive, negative, and neutral autobiographical events. Participants recalled two personal experiences of each type and then rated their memories on several characteristics (e.g. sensorial and contextual details). They also reported whether they ‘see’ the events in their memories from their own perspective (‘field’ memories) or whether they ‘see’ the self engaged in the event as an observer would (‘observer’ memories). Positive memories contained more sensorial (visual, smell, taste) and contextual (location, time) details than both negative and neutral events, whereas negative and neutral memories did not differ on most dimensions. Positive and negative events were more often recollected with a field perspective than neutral events. Finally, participants were classified in four groups according to the repressive coping style framework. Emotional memories of repressors were not less detailed than those of the other groups. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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We describe a study in which young and older groups of Bangladeshi participants recalled and dated autobiographical memories from across the lifespan. Memories were subsequently plotted in terms of the age of participants at time of encoding. As expected the reminiscence bump, preferential recall of memories from the period of 10 to 30 years of age, was observed. This was very marked in the younger group and but less so in the older group who also showed a second bump in the period 35 to 55 years of age. This second bump corresponded to the period of national conflict between Pakistan and the Bengalee people that resulted in the formation of an independent Bangladesh. It is proposed that both the reminiscence bump and later periods of unexpected rises in recall can be accounted for by the raised accessibility of sets of memories and this in turn is a product of the privileged encoding of highly self-relevant experiences.
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The autobiographical memory bump is an increase in the frequency of reported autobiographical memories (AMs) from a particular age range, and has been reported by numerous investigators (for reviews, see Conway, M. A. & Rubin, D. C. (1993). The structure of autobiographical memory. In A. F. Collins, S. E. Gathercole, M. A. Conway & P. E. Morris, Theories of memory. Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum; Rubin, D. C., Rahhal, T. A. & Poon, L. W. (1998). Things learned in early adulthood are remembered best. Memory and Cognition, 26, 3-19) to occur in the second and third decades of life. Invariably, word labels have been used as AM cues but, given that a popular interpretation of the anecdotal 'Proust phenomenon' is that odours evoke AMs which are especially aged, we wondered if a different pattern in the AM bump might emerge if AMs were cued by odours rather than labels. Here we report an attempt to substantiate this aspect of the 'Proust phenomenon' by comparing the distributions of memories across the lifespan when cued by odour and label. Data showed that, in line with previous studies, the bump for label cues was found to peak between ages 11 and 25 years and was confirmed to be quadratic in form. In contrast, the odour-cued memory distribution peaked at 6-10 years and decreased linearly thereafter. In the earliest age interval, 6-10 years, the proportion of AMs retrieved in response to odour cues was significantly greater than that for the label cues. These results provide empirical support for the Proust phenomenon, and have more general implications for the structure and age distribution of stored AMs. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
For word-cued autobiographical memories, older adults had an increase, or bump, from the ages 10 to 30. All age groups had fewer memories from childhood than from other years and a power-function retention function for memories from the most recent 10 years. There were no consistent differences in reaction times and rating scale responses across decades. Concrete words cued older memories, but no property of the cues predicted which memories would come from the bump. The 5 most important memories given by 20- and 35-year-old participants were distributed similarly to their word-cued memories, but those given by 70-year-old participants came mostly from the single 20-to-30 decade. No theory fully accounts for the bump.
The idea that olfaction and emotion are closely linked has become commonplace in both popular and scientific discussions of the sense of smell. Odors are said to influence mood, evoke powerful experiences of pleasure or displeasure, produce alertness or relaxation, and evoke long-forgotten emotional memories. These effects are often said to reflect the dependence of olfaction on parts of the brain involved in emotional experience. Some writers have even gone as far as dubbing olfaction “our most emotional sense” (Lieff and Alper, 1988). How much of this is fact and how much fancy? Unfortunately, assertions about olfaction and emotion are often made without sufficient justification from the scientific literature, in part because little relevant research has existed until quite recently. Yet, as research on olfaction and emotion grows, it is important to critically examine ideas that have sometimes been taken as self-evident. In this chapter we seek to clarify the various ways in which the sense of smell could be construed as “emotional” by discussing eight “propositions” connecting olfaction to affect. We also explore the possibility that regardless of whether claims for some unique relationship between olfaction and emotion can be substantiated at present, odors may have a role to play in the study of affective reactions; hence a second aim of this chapter is to suggest ways in which olfaction may be profitably used in the study of affective experience.
A structural aspect of personal memories was examined in four studies. In some memories, one has the perspective of an observer, seeing oneself “from the outside.” In other memories, one sees the scene from one's own perspective; the field of view in such memories corresponds to that of the original situation. The existence of “observer” and “field” memories was confirmed in Study 1, using a recall questionnaire. In Study 2, the similarity structure of a specified set of eight to-be-recalled situations was established: the significant dimensions were “emotionality” and “self-awareness.” Study 3 related these dimensions to the observer-field distinction; situations involving a high degree of emotion and selfawareness were most likely to be recalled with an observer perspective. Recall set was varied in Study 4: a focus on feelings (as opposed to objective circumstances) produced relatively more field memories. Studies 3 and 4 also showed that events reported as more recent tend to be recalled in the field mode. Thus a qualitative characteristic of personal memories—the perspective from which they are experienced—is apparently related to characteristics of the original event, to the individual's purpose in recalling that event, and to the reported recall interval.
College undergraduates were asked to record events from their lives, and then to date those events. Data were collected from groups of subjects using a set of cue words to prompt the events, from individual subjects, for individual cue words, from groups of subjects using no cue words, and from subjects who kept diaries. If it is assumed that the subjects encoded an equal number of events from each day of their lives, the distribution of events recorded as a function of time can be viewed as a retention function. The data from all experiments provided an excellent fit to the single-trace fragility function proposed by Wickelgren to account for more traditional laboratory learning experiments. Taken together these experiments indicate that the retention function is not an artifact of summing different functions produced by individual subjects or cue words and that the episodes recorded are, for the most part, accurately dated memories of actual events. Thus, episodic memory of a naturalistic, autobiographical nature and episodic memory for lists appear to have the same retention properties.
Evidence is reviewed that for older adults the period from 10 to 30 years of age produces recall of the most autobiographical memories, the most vivid memories, and the most important memories. It is the period from which peoples' favorite films, music, and books come and the period from which they judge the most important world events to have originated. Factual, semantic, general-knowledge, multiple-choice questions about the Academy Awards, the World Series, and current events from this period were answered more accurately by two different groups of 30 older adults tested 10 years apart. A cognitive theory based on the importance of transitions and several noncognitive theories are considered as explanations of this pervasive phenomenon.