Food Smells Enable Time Travel: Study Finds

Food Smells Enable Time Travel To The Past

Psychology News

A research team at Lancaster University explored how food smells enable time travel and result in vivid recollections. The study is published in the journal Human–Computer Interaction.

The Study

The researchers worked with 12 older adults who were asked to recall and describe memories related to and not related to food. For the non-food memories, the participants took to free recall.

For the food memories, bespoke 3D printed flavor-based cues were created modeled on the original food and administered to the participants. Thereafter, they were asked to recall the memories linked to a specific smell of food.

The Findings

The results revealed that a large number of memories cued by flavors are strongly associated with mental time travel to the past. Such “food memories” are found to be more vivid and detailed and could be more easily recalled than free recall. In fact, the mere act of eating the cue was seen as a bodily re-enactment of the original event, triggering sensations and memories.

One of the lead authors, Professor Corina Sas, elaborated: “Our outcomes indicated that personalized 3D printed flavor-based cues have rich sensorial and emotional qualities supporting strong recollective retrieval, especially when they distinctively match the food in the original experience and prompt emotionally positive self-defining memories.

The researchers are enthusiastic that the findings from the study could be implemented in mental health interventions for dementia.

To Know More You May Refer To

Gayler, T., Sas, C., & Kalnikaite, V. (2022). “It took me back 25 years in one bound”: self-generated flavor-based cues for self-defining memories in later life. Human–Computer Interaction, 1–42. https://doi.org/10.1080/07370024.2022.2107518

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