Mechanism of olfactory memory

Psycho-Aromatherapy chart of Robert Tisserand

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The perfumer invites people to smell perfumes, this can be a daily routine. sometimes it is a customer who smells the raw materials for his fragrance. I can let the barman the barman next to my office try a new fragrance,  or his customer. I diffuse scents during my didactic conferences. My pockets are always full of perfumes. I do not miss an occasion to put them on other people’s hands, I leave behind me a sillage that stuns people who do not know me.
A perfumer never has to ask to someone what he thinks of the perfume: it is enough for him to observe and read the faces. Facial expressions are infinite, liking, repulsion, it appeals to me but I wouldn’t wear it, doubtful, skeptical, intrigued, reminds me of something long ago but I do not know what, reminds me of something that I don’t like. Everything can be red from the face.

At the end the expressions are only of two categories: smiling and negative. If the person smiles it means “good”, if the person does not smile she will never buy a scent that will not make her happy, unless she wants to rid of the scent and make a gift to someone.

The only way that we have to enable us to understand the meaning odors is to go searching into our olfactory memories for the emotions to which they are tied.
Most people are not able to give a name to the most familiar aromas when they smell them out of their context or when they do not see the image of the object that emanates it.
They say about all citruses that it is the smell of lemon, they cannot guess the name of scents such as chocolate or tobacco, and when I reveal to them the name of the aromas that they cannot name, it is for them like an illumination; True, it was so obvious! They exclaim.
This is because there are no direct connections between our primitive brain, our “crocodile brain “, and the neocortex where the center of language resides.
In order to identify a known odor by its name we must first of all dive in the past to recall the period in which the emotions tied to the smell have been memorized. When we got the period we can more easily recall the place where we smelled it. When we see the place we can then remember the situations in which it was percieved, and finally we can identify the source of the smell and therefore its name.
It is curious that our mind, so intelligently sophisticated as it is, has to follows such a complicated track in order to give a name to a smell.
This is because our sense of smell has preceded our intelligence, and because in some way it is independent from it.
AbdesSalaam Attar
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