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Familiar Smells Unlock Memories

Health Brief

Familiar Smells Unlock Memories

Familiar Smells Unlock Memories

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common mental disorder that affects an estimated 21 million adults in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. For some, MDD may severely interfere with or limit a person’s ability to carry out life activities. People with depression also have trouble accessing memories.

JAMA Network Open recently published a study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine involving 32 patients with MDD, which sought to evaluate whether the participants could be prompted to recall a specific personal memory when exposed to an odor or word cues. The researchers rated levels of arousal, vividness, repetition and recall response time based on those memory clues. Participants recalled more specific personal memories when cued with odors than with words. Odor-cued memories were more vivid and arousing than word-cued memories. The results could have implications for managing MDD and possibly reducing depressive symptoms.

Photo Credit: triffitt from Getty Images/CanvaPro

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