The wafting aroma of homemade festive turkey. The smell of your mum’s favourite perfume.
There are certain odours ingrained in your mind that may trigger memories of encounters that occurred a long time back — and scientists believe they may have found the regions in the brain responsible for storing those scents as long-term memories.
Neuroscientists Dr Christina Strauch and Dr Denise Manahan-Vaughan, both from the Ruhr-Universitat Bochum, believe that the piriform cortex, component of their olfactory brain, is included in the procedure.
But they add that the mechanics only operates if the piriform cortex interacts with another brain area, known as orbitofrontal cortex.
Dr Strauch explained: “It’s understood the piriform cortex can temporarily store olfactory memories. We wanted to know whether that applies to long-term memories too.”
To figure out the way the procedure worked, the researchers looked at synaptic plasticity — the communication between nerves that lets the brain to produce and store memories.
Dr Strauch and Dr Manahan-Vaughan analyzed the piriform cortex of rodents to see whether they’re effective at expressing synaptic plasticity.
They utilized electrical impulses in the mind to replicate the procedures that save olfactory sensations as a memory.
They also sparked a higher brain region called the orbitofrontal cortex, which is responsible for informing different sensory experiences aside.
The duo discovered that the piriform cortex was included in keeping the experiences associated with specific smells as long-term memories — but only when aided by the orbitofrontal cortex.
Dr Strauch stated: “Our analysis indicates that the piriform cortex is really capable to serve as a record for long-term memories.
“However, it needs instruction from the orbitofrontal cortex — a higher brain area — indicating an event will be saved as a memory”
The findings have been published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.