Every day we rely on memories–whether we’re trying to recall how to do a simple task or come up with a person’s name. You might take it for granted how often you use your memory. That is until you have memory loss.
Memory loss not only impacts your ability to recall old memories. It keeps you from forming new ones. Even simple ones like where you left your keys.
No matter who you are, you probably know what it feels like to forget something important. But what actually happens in your brain? As it turns out, one part of the brain controls most of your memory functions. Your ability to access memories and create new ones relies on your hippocampus.
What is the hippocampus?
The hippocampus is the memory part of the brain. It controls both memory and learning. The hippocampus is dense with neurons.
When the hippocampus functions properly, it can create two kinds of memories.
The first kind of memory focuses on facts and events. This is how you remember a name or a statistic from a football game. It’s also how you recall a specific holiday memory from your childhood.
The hippocampus also controls spatial memory. Spatial memory allows you to remember directions, like how to get from your house to the grocery store. It’s also how you remember where objects are, such as where you left your wallet.
Memories are encoded in the hippocampus. In short, encoding means your brain processes the memories so they can be easily stored and retrieved. Part of that is linking memories to emotions and senses.
Have you ever had a strong memory triggered by a familiar smell? That’s your hippocampus memory at work. In fact, your sense of smell has a direct connection to your hippocampus. That’s the only direct connection to any of your five senses.
Hippocampus damage and memory loss
People with Alzheimer’s have damage to their hippocampus. The damage usually results in memory loss. But the hippocampus also shrinks with age. This is part of the reason why most people over 60 suffer from cognitive decline.
We know that hippocampal damage predicts memory loss. The big question is: how do we predict hippocampal damage?
Loss of smell predicts memory loss
As it turns out, that direct connection between your sense of smell and your memory is really important. Your sense of smell can help predict memory loss.
People start to lose their sense of smell as their hippocampus begins to show damage. This often happens before they show symptoms of memory loss.
One proven treatment for memory loss is sensory stimulation. For instance, hearing loss can make cognitive decline worse. But using a hearing aid helps for many older adults. If a hearing aid can improve cognition, just think what improving someone’s sense of smell can do.
With a direct connection to your hippocampus, your olfactory system (your sense of smell) plays a huge role in improving memory and cognition.
Studies have shown that olfactory stimulation can actually increase the size of the hippocampus. That means smelling concentrated scents can make part of your brain bigger. It also improves memory in older adults and people with dementia.
Now it’s time to connect the dots. How do we use what we know about smell and memory? We believe that effective treatment for memory loss needs to tap into the strong relationship between the olfactory system and the hippocampus.
Introducing the Memory Air Device: Amidst these challenges, we’ve created a groundbreaking solution – the Memory Air device. This innovative device taps into the remarkable connection between smell and memory. By releasing carefully formulated scents during sleep, it triggers specific neural pathways associated with memory enhancement. Learn more at www.memoryair.com.