Our sense of smell is considered by some to be our most primal sense. It corresponds with our root chakra (at the base of the spine), Cedarwood, Myrrh, Patchouli, Sandalwood, and Frankincense essential oils, and the color red. Numerous studies have demonstrated its power -both negative and positive on every thing from our moods to the selection and rejection of suitable mates, to the identification of our newborn babies. It’s good a thing to know we can identify the exact scent of our baby should count we or the hospital lose track of them.
Seriously though, a recent study showed that “immediately postpartum, odor-based cues direct the newborn babies orienting decisions in the environment afforded by the mother’s body.” This process is reciprocial and bidirectional. Eg. Human adult caretakers experience heightened bonding in response to infant sensory cues as well as to infant-elicited behavior. This in turn releases nurturing attitudes and responses, and the correlative neural and neuroendocrine cascades, mainly within the dopaminergic reward system. This is neural pathway associated with addiction, and with the good feelings that are activated by engaging in reward-inducing behavior.
Under normal conditions, the circuit controls an individual’s responses to natural rewards, such as food, sex, and social interactions, and is therefore an important determinant of motivation and incentive drive. In simpler terms, activation of the pathway tells the individual to repeat what it just did to get that reward. It also tells the memory centers in the brain to pay particular attention to all features of that rewarding experience, so it can be repeated in the future. Not surprisingly, it is a very old pathway from an evolutionary point of view. The use of dopamine neurons to mediate behavioral responses to natural rewards is seen in worms and flies, which evolved 1-2 billion years ago.
“So the reaction to a newborn’s scent may be a hard-wired bonding mechanism between mothers and infants—a biochemical reward for mom in the midst of all her hard work”, according to Erika Beras, and an Oct 21st 2013, podcast from Scientific American.
The example above is one of the more altruistic examples of how our sense of smell impacts our behaviour. A less pure motive is probably behind the use of scent by retailers, and real estate agents –think wafting scent of home-baked chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies– who are hoping to use scents to induce us to buy things. With this in mind, the upcoming release of the Scentee accessory for smartphones shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The plug-in accessory attaches to headphone socket on both iPhones and Android smartphones and, when told to by the companion app, releases a burst of fragrance, paired with a customizable LED light.The current model delivers 100 bursts per capsule, and additional ones can be bought for $5 / 500 yen a piece, online.The available scents and aromas include rose, mint, cinnamon roll, coffee, curry, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lavender, apple, coconut, strawberry and strangely enough, corn soup. But that’s not all. A special limited edition range of scents called the Korean BBQ collection will be available on November 15 and includes three extra ‘flavors’: two different type of meat and, well, baked potato.
According to Endagadget.com, scent release can be added to social networks, SMS, games and alarms, and developers are also working to tie-in location-based release. Hardware development, meanwhile, is aimed at further miniaturization and (if possible) the ability to embed multiple scents into a single accessory. Anyone for some lavender, rose, mint? I’d take that over corn soup any day.
I’ll be talking about a simple engaging practice for balancing your root chakra and for engaging your senses of smell in an upcoming post. Until then keep on smelling the roses and the baked potatoes. We like ours stuffed with broccoli and parmesan cheese. Yum!
Sabrina <3 <3 <3
- Aromatherapy: Brief List of Scents to Manipulate Basic Emotions (undergroundhealth.com)
- Calming Scents (apecewamogo.wordpress.com)