You step into the quaint new bakery down the street; breathing in the delicious wafts of brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla you’re sent back to the holiday season at your

Taken by Kevin Dooley

grandma’s house. You smile, remembering all your fond memories as a child. We’ve all been there, stepping into someone’s house or walking past a stranger on the street, our noses catch a scent both new and old. A fragrance so familiar and nostalgic we are transported back in time. We breathe in the familiarity as it excites all our senses and far off memories come rushing through.

A perfume has

Jimmy Choo by Jimmy Choo

effects like this too. Whether it is someone’s signature scent or just a specific ingredient which calls out to you, perfumes can often bring a memory or experience to the front of our minds. Personally, citrusy notes, like those in Jimmy Choo’s self-titled perfume, transport me to the summer I spent on my uncle’s fruit farm. I remember eating as many juicy oranges as I could get my hands on and that was sure to leave a sweet and zesty fragrance on my skin. A whiff of Jimmy Choo can make those pleasant summer memories feel as though they were just moments ago.  But why is it that certain aromas can bring back such vivid remembrances?

This is actually known as the Proustian phenomenon, named after French novelist Marcel Proust who based one of his stories on the powerful nature of scent memories.The reason specific aromas can trigger memories and emotions so quickly and abruptly has to do with the way our brain is wired. The olfactory nerve takes every smell we are exposed to and sends it to be registered in our brain. The olfactory nerve is connected to the amygdala and hippocampus in the center of our brains. Our hippocampus and amygdala are associated with the formation of memories, however our amygdala is also closely tied to our emotions. These connections all play their own part in turning a simple, passing scent into a moment of fond reminiscence.

So don’t be surprised the next time a whiff of your favorite fragrance sends you back to a happy summer memory, the feeling of your first love, or the comfort and joy of your grandma’s house.