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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adams

The Nose Knows

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

OFTEN I USE THE SENSE OF SMELL to help unearth a particular setting in my writing. It seems to help stimulate my recall and adds to the story's clarity and believability.

As an example, the sensation I had getting out of my family's Ford station wagon at Glen Lake’s Old Orchard Inn after a six-hour drive from Birmingham in the 1950s is brought to life when I recall being met by the aroma of pine pitch and draped in the fresh clean air of northern Michigan. It triggers vivid recall of the memory by using the olfactory sense. It took writing for me to discover the magic in recall that the sense of smell happens to evoke.

Science explains our brain’s pleasure centers we rely on which process the information so that scents can be recognized and appreciated. It intensifies the experience and helps in recall through the firing of neurons in our amygdala and hippocampus. The science behind it all is just now beginning to be understood. For those not inclined toward complex biochemical sensory models perhaps it can be explained as similar to adding fresh herbs to a summer salad – giving things a bit of a boost.

From an evolutionary point of view, humans’ other senses hearing, touch, and sight have progressed to rely less on our sense of smell and taste. Scientists claim that dogs have 44 times more scent cells than humans, and additionally, human females are more attuned to smell than men.

I’ll let your imagination contemplate these tidbits. Here’s to women and canines and a good sniffer.

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