Monday, May 11, 2009

The Smell of Music

During your drive use aromas to form novel associations between smells and sounds. Instead of using a visual stimulation, this exercise associates auditory stimulation—music—with a specific odor. Start by choosing an odor of your choice (either deliberately or at random) and a favorite song on a CD or tape. Use the odor and take a good sniff every time you listen to that song. Imagine pairing pine odor with a country-western ballad, lavender with the first movement of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, or cloves with the sound of the Bee Gees. Be creative with your sound-smell combinations: Try some odd pairings and see what kinds of new association springs to your mind.

The goal here is not to remember anything specific, but to provide more raw-material to provoke your brain into weaving more associative networks. Both music and smells are powerful stimuli that evoke different emotions. Normally we don't listen to music in the context of odors or vice versa. In this exercise, the repeated pairing of these two stimuli makes your brain create powerful links between the two, increasing the number of pathways available for storing or accessing memories.

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