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Friday, 22 February 2019 13:18
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The Nose Knows — More Than We Realize

The anterior olfactory nucleus, a region in the forebrain that registers odor, has recently been implicated in areas that range far beyond — but is still linked with — the sense of smell.

Recently, a team of Swedish investigators published a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, reporting that breathing through the nose is more helpful for the storage and consolidation of memories than breathing through the mouth.

There are two important aspects of the study’s findings. The first is that memory is better stored and consolidated while breathing through the nose. The second concerns the process that mediates between breathing, learning, and memory retrieval.

The team pointed out that although their scientific investigation of the relationship between breathing and memory, as well as the technology they are using for their investigations, is new, the concept of breathing affecting our behavior and our memory is actually very old.

In the words of lead author Dr. Artin Arshamian,"This knowledge has been around for thousands of years, in such areas as meditation. But no one has managed to prove scientifically what actually goes on the brain. We now have tools that can reveal new clinical knowledge."

The anterior olfactory nucleus also plays a lead role in another study, published in Nature Communications, which shows that people with good spatial memory are better at identifying smells than people with poor spatial memory.

The sense of smell even seems to hold a key to dementia risk. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found a strong connection between a person’s ability to identify smells and their risk of developing dementia.

Losing one’s sense of smell may prove to be an strong indicator of dementia risk, and the study’s researchers posit that risk of dementia may be one day be able to be assessed through a simple, inexpensive smell test.


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