Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Every Signpost in Nature Said You Belong To Me

I have been feeling a sense of nostalgia lately. Not focused on any one time or place...more just a general wisful feeling towards childhood maybe? Anyway, I wanted to somehow work that in to Choose and Defend Wednesday. I decided to focus on the way our senses can lead us directly to forgotten moments. Since I didn't see any good way to cut it down you are getting FIVE choices this week! What a treat, eh?

The question is - Which of your senses works most powerfully on triggering involuntary memories? What is it that brings you back...and why? Choose and Defend,






Tell us about which sense most often takes your mind on a journey into the past. Feel free to share one of those moments, if you'd can only strengthen your defense :) Choose and Defend!


Secret Agent Woman said...

At the risk of being a killjoy, there is actually a scientific answer for this. It is the sense of smell, the only sense not mediated by the thalamus. The thalamus relays sensory information to the cerebral cortex. So visual information gets routed to the visual cortex, auditory information to the auditory cortex and so on. Except smell. That's because the olfactory system is much more primitive. Information is sent directly to the olfactory cortex and amygdala, rather than being mediated through the thalamus. The amygdala is part of the limbic system (the "lizard brain" - old, primitive, dealing in emotional responses). The olfactory system is physiologically the closest to both the amygdala and the hippocampus (involved in memory) of all the sensory systems. So although any sense can trigger memories, the sense of smell is most likely to rapidly trigger old emotion-linked memories.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Incidentally, when I took the kids to Costa Rica several years ago, I smelled something in the vegetation that instantly took me back to Panama, where I visited my grandparents when I was 4 years old. It was like a powerful punch in the gut - I was there.

NoRegrets said...

I have no idea. Not too many memories get triggered... I'll think about it.

silly rabbit said...

Smell. I knew it as soon as you began asking before I knew the choices. Smell always takes me back.

For example. I once had bad frozen lasagna... which gave me food poisoning. Now if I smell Italian sausage, it makes me instantly feel ill, as if I was right there ready to drive that bus again. Very powerful and immediate.

Tara said...

Very good question! I love that photo of someone petting a cat, btw!

My strongest sense for nostalgia is definitely smell. I have caught the scent of paint on several occasions and it reminds me of the stuff we used for fingerpainting in grade school. Or if I smell chlorine, I think of swimming lessons.

Anonymous said...

I'm conflicted between sound and smell, but I'm going to go with smell.

laura b. said...

Secret: Thanks for the science. It doesn't kill any of the joy for me :) One for Smell.

NoRegret: That is interesting in itself I reckon!

Silly: Oooh, a bad sense memory :( It is powerful though, isn't it. Two for Smell.

Tara: Isn't that a great photo? I like it too. Seems like science is winning! Three for Smell.

Silver: There is something about music for sure. Four for smell.

Eveyone: Well, I guess scientifically maybe the other senses didn't stand a chance. Although for me sound and touch would be very close.

James, who sometimes visits here answered on Twitter so I am counting his vote. You should read his musical memories blog!!!

So we had 4 for Smell. 1 for Sound. And one undecided.

Anyone else who wants to talk about their sensory memories is more than welcome to join in!

Churlita said...

For me it's smell or hearing a particular song.

laura b. said...

Churlita: This seems to be the consensus. I guess I might have figured this, but it is still interesting to hear if from people :)