“Your brain is essentially associating the smell with positive or negative” feelings, said Hao Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California. Those feelings aren’t just linked to the memory; they are part of it: The brain assigns an emotional “valence” to information as it encodes it, locking in experiences as good or bad memories.
And now we know how the brain does it. As Li and his team reported recently in Nature, the difference between memories that conjure up a smile and those that elicit a shudder is established by a small peptide molecule known as neurotensin. They found that as the brain judges new experiences in the moment, neurons adjust their release of neurotensin, and that shift sends the incoming information down different neural pathways to be encoded as either positive or negative memories. More
Due to where & when I’m from, I have long associated the smell of talcum powder with poor hygiene.
Nowadays, I have the same problem when I get a whiff of “axe body spray”
I don’t know what the hell that cheap shit is that old ladies douse themselves with, but I can’t stand it! Where ever they are I’m outta there!!
College boys trying to mask their BO with “Axe” is the most disgusting smell on earth (I recall my son’s laundry when he came home for the holidays…).
I worked on a dairy farm in the 70’s and early 80’s. You get used to some smells (cow manure) and they don’t disgust you any more (except chicken crap and rotten flesh).
Jethro – Before there wuz Axe, there wuz Hai Karate!
Cheap shit for teenagers (who don’t know any better)
It’s the smell of gasoline and that partially burned smell of gasoline that you still get from snowmobiles, outboard motors and sometimes from vintage cars that trigger memories for me; good and bad. Sometimes the smell of cut grass or even a freshened breeze off the lake.
Cigarette smoke too. I grew up around a lot of fossil fuel burning engines, the outdoors and cigarettes, I guess.
I’m not sure if the article oversimplifies things too much into just positive vs. negative memories, but I do know one thing…
So, that an idea/excuse/person “smells rotten” (say Joey(k) and his ilk) is a real thing.
Okay. Got it.
I wonder if the same dynamics work with hearing a song or seeing an image for triggering good or bad memories? Probably not as strong a reaction I would venture.
The Chinese flu killed what little sense of smell I had. Oh well, if I gotta lose 1 sense, that’s my pick and maybe it’s a blessing because my gal has a hyper nose. Would not want that although there are some aromas I miss.
Cigars and cigar smoke….My Dad smoked cigars my whole life and that smell brings up nothing but good special memories with a slide show continuously running through my head….. I still look around for him whenever I smell a cigar…….and then there\’s that perfume that Nikki wore….YOWSER!!!
So is Joey sniffing little girls hair to relive memories of victims past, or searching for new victims?
I’m guessing similar mechanisms, Dr. Tar.
Okay, here’s the General’s first list of smells to rate on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being just a super-great memory (feeling, response, etc.):
(1) Bag of dirty gym clothes brought home at the end of the week when you were in school.
(2) Freshly exposed ocean beach on an extreme low tide.
(3) Rotting cedar log covered with spiders and their webs on an dry October afternoon.
(4) On the street of your favorite town on parade day in the summer.
(5) Chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven as you come in the kitchen door.
(6) The smell of dirty socks and underwear on the floor of crew’s berthing.
(7) (For old boomers) The dentist’s “rinse bowl” when you were a kid.
(8) The smell of your own toilet when you really, really, REALLY needed to puke. (A tricky one.)
(9) Pile of burning maple and alder leaves in November.
(10) Chainsaw parts all over your workbench.
Pipe tobacco smell!
Dr. Tar – nailed it for me! I always dreamed of being in Gasoline Alley! Now I’ll add one more smell – going over a railroad crossing on a 95 degree day – that great smell of creosote!
We should start a list of vintage smells.
Just leave Jackass Joe out of it!
TRF. Damn, “creosote” reminds me of the great smell of the pilings when we used to fish off the docks lying on our stomachs and dangling hand lines.
The smell of a rowboat, live worms, and fish guts.
Bleach. Rancid garbage or a decomposing carcass.
I got invited to a ‘Tacky party’ once, where you you were supposed to wear something tacky. I wore 8 ounces of Lilac aftershave and half a bottle of Wildroot hair creme in my hair. I could literally rub my head and then splat some Wildroot on the ground. It was fun.
As far as the article goes, it suggests to me that we don’t have a choice in how we create memory, or how we recollect (re-collect) or respond to it. It supports ‘compulsive thinking,’ in my estimation. I don’t go along with that, but most people do it, and I can’t change them.
Next week it will be used to argue in support of something in a court of law.
Smells like home where you want to be – graham crackers, gingerbread, Brötchen. Pine branches, cedar, furniture paste wax, lemon. cinnamon.. Oddly enoughI love the smell of Clorox Clean Up in the morning.
Favorite scents – Chanel #19 (want to know my birthday just in case?) Molinard de Molinard (smells like Christmas), Hermes (the original), Joy
Nastiness – some of the heavy perfumes from the ’80’s like Poison, Marilyn Miglin (smells like dried blood), Giorgio (M-I-L bathed in it I believe). I don’t know if this crap is still around. Irish Spring soap – smells like dog pee on some people.
@Dr. Tar, there was a phrase that used to trigger really bad feelings. I finally realized it was what my mother said before hauling out her weapon of choice, the wooden spoon.
A lot of older women wear too much perfume because they’ve lost their sense of smell. They put on enough so THEY can smell it. I worked at a small business for a year where the secretary was like that. A coworker’s wife thought he was having an affair, so he brought her in to work one day to meet the secretary. Funny
Is that why liberals stink?
I used to sprinkle talcum powder on my sheets when I was in college. I had more than one college girl tell me that my sheets smelled sexy. It didn’t take much, just enough to scent the bed. I did have the good manners to change the sheets every time after I had sex.
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I remember being at work in a production area and smelling what smelled like crayons. I immediately remembered as a child coloring and the thought actually put a smile on my face. I even shared the experience with a coworker.