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Journal Articles Acta Psychologica Year : 2023

Odor-evoked memories: The importance of choosing the right odor

Abstract

Odors are known to entertain a special link with memory. However, the scientific literature investigating odors as powerful reminders of past experiences shows mixed results. This can be partly due to poor consistency in methodological approaches, especially concerning stimuli choice. Here, we presented 64 odorants to 130 young adults and asked them to freely report what each odor evoked to them. Responses were sorted in 1) mere odors' identification attempts and 2) any other memory-based verbal content, whose phenomenological properties were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. As expected, only a limited number of odors managed to spontaneously trigger high-quality autobiographical memories. In most cases, people engage in an odor identification task or evoke unspecific memory contents. We finally selected a pool of 20 odors as a function of the memory contents they're more likely to trigger. This enabled us to formulate recommendations for professionals (researchers or practitioners) performing olfactory-based memory stimulation.
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hal-04091695 , version 1 (08-05-2023)

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Désirée Lopis, Dominique Valentin, C. Manetta. Odor-evoked memories: The importance of choosing the right odor. Acta Psychologica, 2023, 236, pp.103932. ⟨10.1016/j.actpsy.2023.103932⟩. ⟨hal-04091695⟩
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