Have you ever associated a particular smell with a specific memory? Or perhaps walked through a departmental store and smelled a perfume that reminded you of someone in your past? Why is that so and could we use this to our advantage?
In Psychology, this is called the encoding specificity principle, where memories are encoded with specific cues related to the context in which they were formed. This essentially means the closer you are contextually to where the memory was encoded- the easier the recall of that specific memory.
So if you put yourself in a similar situation where the retrieval cues catch the form in which the information was encoded, the better it will be remembered. Bearing this in mind, how can we apply this to our daily lives?
First of all, what sort of cues are we referring to? These cues can refer to the location and even the scents that were present when we formed that memory. Basically, if we are in the exact same place and smelling the same scents, the higher the chances of memory recall.
However, it can be difficult to be in the exact same place when we need to retrieve a memory. For example, how often have we had an examination in our classroom? Locations are often factors that are out of our control. But, in terms of scents we can certainly control this.
One practical tip that I used while studying was to apply a different scent of perfume while revising and only using it again during an examination. In fact, I consciously smelled the perfume during the examination in an attempt to jot my memory, which in fact worked! The perfume aided my brain into a better recall of that piece of information I was eagerly after.
So the next time you have a chunk of information to remember, try this step!
Apply a perfume that you will only use while looking through the information and thereafter when you are required to regurgitate it. You will find that you are giving your brain all the help it needs to recall that piece of information.