Childhood Food Smells Can Bring Back Forgotten Memories In Older People, Study Finds

With age, the human brain tends to fade, and memory becomes faulty, but a new study has shown that smelling food could trigger some memories. According to the new study, individuals that enjoyed certain foods during childhood can easily remember forgotten memories if exposed to a food smell that reminds them of childhood. 

Scientists find ways to capture memorable smells.

Researchers at Lancaster University found that older persons could “time travel” back in time with improved memory recall when they were exposed to meals and smells from their childhood.

The taste of grandmother’s apple pie or the aromas of a new pizza straight from the kitchen are just two examples of the foods, flavours, and aromas frequently associated with some of the fondest memories. These feelings have a long history of being able to “jog” memory in a manner that immediately takes folks back to previously forgotten times.

To better comprehend this phenomenon, the research team examined whether 3D-printed flavour-based signals would result in better memory recall across a set of older persons. This project involved 12 persons, and 72 recollections were gathered. The other 50% of those memories didn’t involve eating at all. Participants were asked to recall every memory twice, once with and once without a flavour cue.

Food smells can evoke memories. 

The study authors  worked with respondents to craft personalized “bespoke flavour-based cues.” The small, gel-like edible, 3D-printed flavour-based signals were “modelled on original food”  and were easy to swallow without needing preparation and all ingredients. 

Study author Corina Sas said that the outcomes show that customized 3D-printed flavour-based cues can elicit emotional and sensory qualities that support strong re-collective memory. This is so especially when they match the food in the past experience and elicit a positive self-defining memory.  

After consuming the flavour-based signals, all individuals remembered the events more clearly. In contrast, they recalled much fewer specifics during the previous free recall trials.

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