Why do scents bring back memories?

The smell of chlorine wafts through the air. Suddenly, you recall childhood summers spent in a swimming pool. Or maybe it’s a whiff of apple pie, or the scent of the same perfume your mom used to wear. Our noses have a way of sniffing out nostalgia. …

After a smell enters the nose, it travels through the cranial nerve through the olfactory bulb, which helps the brain process smells. The olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. As a member of the limbic system, the olfactory bulb can easily access the amygdala, which plays a role in emotional memories (it’s also where the “fight or flight” reflex comes from).

“Olfactory has a strong input into the amygdala, which process emotions. The kind of memories that it evokes are good and they are more powerful,” explains Eichenbaum.