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Research Validates Link Between Odor Inhalation and Improved Memory Recall

In a preliminary study of 21 men and women college students between the ages of 19 and 24, researchers found that participants who smelled a specially formulated fragrance experienced an increase in performance scores of recalling historical facts and dates than during exposure to a recognizable food odor or a pleasant neutral odor.

All test subjects were in good health and had normal olfactory ability, as measured by a preliminary medical assessment. Each subject completed a battery of pre and post-trial cognitive, physical and psychological assessments that included; visual acuity, reading ability, sleep and study habits; and rating of feelings of self esteem, self discipline, confidence, etc.

The subjects participated in a one-hour, college freshman level test on U.S. History in a timed, "final exam" setting. The test was conducted after a 2-hour "cramming" study period. A monetary award of $25 was offered to participants that scored 90% and above. During all phases of the blind study, each participant was given a specially designed finger ring that had been infused with one of the particular scents. The subjects were instructed to inhale the scent repeatedly and freely throughout both study testing periods. All subjects underwent three separate U.S. History study periods and tests, one under each odor condition over an eight-day period.

Research Findings

The findings showed that the special formulation most effected the participant's performance when recall of exact dates and associated names was required. Remembering lists of items showed moderate improvement. Recalling contextual facts alone showed modest improvement.

An increased sense of wakefulness was reported as was a feeling of improved concentration. A moderate decrease in overall frustration was also noted.

Subjects reported themselves feeling more positive about their overall mental abilities and having an increased motivation to perform even under the vigilance of the testing environment.

The study found the participants more able to ignore "disturbances" created during the testing period under the special odorant condition. Participants also reported feeling more satisfied with their results during the special odorant condition and even happier overall afterward.

These findings suggest that the special scent creates a physiological effect that stimulates the nervous and circulatory systems; a chemical effect that triggers the release of dopamine, endorphins and other neurotransmitters; and a psychological effect that elicits behavioral changes in mood, motivation, desire, attention, satisfaction, etc.

The primary goal of this study was to identify a viable inhalable study aid. Further study is needed to refine the delivery mechanism.

- Research Index -

 
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