Mmmmh… This sweet feeling when a smell stimulates our senses, cheers us up or brings us back to a good memory, it's indescribable. It is not Marcel Proust and his madeleine who will contradict us! What is this link, as powerful as it is imperceptible, that connects the smells we breathe to our memories and emotions?
Our nose, an asset for our well-being
Our nose, this beautiful organ in the middle of the face, gateway to the scents that surround us and give us sensations from the most pleasant to the most unpleasant. It is the organ of smell, the only one of our 5 senses directly connected to our brain. Sometimes used unconsciously, our sense of smell can also be a wonderful asset for our well-being.
How Smell Connects to Our Brain
When a smell reaches our nostrils, its complex of chemical molecules will be translated into a "message", thanks to the millions of neurons and 400 olfactory receptors that line the inside of our nose. A cascade of chemical reactions will then engage to send a signal to the olfactory bulb, a small structure located on the floor of the cranial box. From the olfactory bulb, the olfactory information is then transmitted to two systems:
The link between smell, memory and emotions
This privileged anatomical link connects the sense of smell, memory and emotions. Olfactory function plays a key role in health and behavior. Sensing dangers in the environment, generating feelings of pleasure, influencing sexuality and maintaining mood are some of the roles of the olfactory system.
The revolutionary discovery of neuronal olfactory receptors
In 2004, a team of American researchers revealed the existence of neuronal olfactory receptors in the nasal mucosa, and made it possible to understand how these cells perceive odors and transmit information to the brain. This discovery earned them the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.