Your Senses and Memory

Out of the five senses, what brings back old memories the clearest?

Sometimes I see things or people who look familiar but I have a hard time putting my finger on it.

I hear things that bring back childhood memories. Old songs, etc., but again, nothing extraordinary.

I still remember what the back of my English Bulldogs head felt like when I would pet him. He has been dead for 20 years. Still, nothing that really jogs the memories.

Every once in a while I will taste something that takes me back to my childhood. Cinnamon toast, Peeps, vanilla coke, bottle cap candy. . . . Certain tastes can take be back in time.

However, the sense that really takes me back is the sense of smell. I will always be reminded of fun vacations everytime I smell the inside of a hotel. I can still remember the smell of my grandma’s rose milk lotion and can instantly go back to the times I sat on her lap in the rocking chair as she sang me to sleep whenever I catch of wiff of it on another person. I can still smell the Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific green apple shampoo I used as a teenager (before they discovered it can burn your eyes out of their sockets). When I think of my elementary school, the first thing that comes to mind is the smell of paste, chalk, paper, rubber balls, and lunch cooking down the hall. Hell, I can still remember the smell of my dolls (I can’t remember what they looked like, but I remember the smell).

I have a horrible time remembering names and faces, I forget what I hear in a matter of minutes, taste and touch can bring back memories in some cases, but it seems as if I have never forgotten a smell.

I agree with you Diane, my sense of smell brings out the most vivid memories. Of course my most memorous :eek: smell from elementary school is that orange powder crap they would spead on vomit that some kid deposited on the cafeteria floor. That stuff would stink up the whole school, and immediately everyone would know, someone yakked in the lunchroom.

However, I think visual cues offer the greatest quantity of memories. Followed by audio as a distant second.

I’ve been known to blurt out, “I smell my childhood” every now and then, so I guess that means scent is my main memory trigger.

Some of the scents are extremely easy to place, while others I just recognize from being a kid.

Either way, I’m absolutely thrilled that it happens, as my childhood was certainly one of the happiest I know of.

Smell is near the top of the list, but for me it’s voices (I seem to be attuned to language and music). I’ll hear a stranger speak and be reminded of a grade one classmate I’d completely forgotten.

…wow, I was just thinking about this yesterday, while I was out shopping…I had picked up a book and was leafing through it when the smell of it sent me reeling back through time to a little market I used to go to as a kid. The “pulpy” smell of the book reminded me of the Police Gazettes I used to gaze at (and often snuck a peek at when no one was looking)…holy puberty! Another scent that takes me back is one of a supermarket with a bakery…for me, it was Mayfair Market. The bakery department at the store near me was adjacent to the magazine rack and at this particular store, they sold Playboy. Nekkid pictures and fresh baked bread…mmmmmmmmmm…

What brings me back most vividly to particular points in my memory is hearing songs.

Oh Diane, you are sooo right on with this!

I’ve always had this really accute smell/memory connection.People think I’m nuts sometimes. Yeah, mega, I can smell it too. :slight_smile:
When my grandmother moved to live my uncle she gave some of her furniture to my ex and me. We rented a Ryder truck and drove the 300 miles home, opened the big door, and the ‘smell’ of my gramma was in there. Kind of sweet and sad at the same time.
Sometimes going through old quilts etc. with my mom I’ll run across something that smells ‘like gramma’s house’.
And my dad passed away when I was five, and I’m 28 now, but Old Spice still makes me think of him.

I’ve heard (I don’t know where, I don’t know when I have no cites, sue me) that smell is the sense which brings up the most acute memories.

Me, I associate a lot of the passing of time in my life with music. The first time I heard “Dancing Queen” a few years ago when Abba was suddenly “retro-cool” again, WHAM, I was 6 years old again. Even with music meaning this much to me, though, smell brings back the most vivid memories. The first time I ate a piece of Teaberry gum…WHAM, I was trick-or-treating while chewing on Wax Chewing Gum lips. When my mom sends a package, I can smell MOM all over it…ditto my grandma when she sends me anything. I can even smell them on a letter. The combined smells of pipe tobacco, books, pine and gasoline bring my grandpa into my brain.

Then again for the same reasons, the smell of burning plastic sends me into a blind panic (I woke up in my burning-down basement apartment with flames less than a foot from my face…plastic stuff was burning and I got a 3rd-degree burn on the bottom of my foot from stepping on a piece of molten plastic).

I’ve heard this too, that above all other senses, smell triggers the most memories. Old Spice smells like my dad. The smell of home-grown tomatoes always reminds me of my mother’s garden. Sour milk reminds me of coming back from vacation and the milkman (remember them?) had left our order in the garage. Whew, the stink! I always associate songs, too. with where I was and who I was hanging out with at the time. Cool thread!