Memory Boosting Rosemary
New research indicates that Shakespeare may have been on to something when he had Ophelia say; “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance: pray you, love, remember”, in Hamlet. Researchers from the University of Northumbria have recently revealed that smelling the scent of Rosemary could improve memory.
The notion isn’t a new one as the ancient Greeks also thought that rosemary could assist with memory. However, this study is the first to be conducted into the herb’s actual affect on this brain function.
It’s More Than a Seasoning
Dr Mark Moss and his colleagues presented their research at the British Psychological Society’s annual meeting in Harrogate earlier this month. Sixty-six people participated in the study during which they were tested on certain memory functions.
Half of the test subjects were placed in a rosemary-scented room whilst the other half were taken to an unscented room. Both groups were then asked to perform various tasks; like finding hidden objects and to pass objects on to researchers at specific times. Essentially the researchers were testing the respondent’s performance when it came to prospective memory; meaning how well they could remember to do certain tasks that would be taking place in the future.
Those subjects in the scented room performed better at both tasks and were also found to have higher concentrations of m8-cineole, a compound found in rosemary oil, in their blood. This compound has previously been shown to act on the biochemical systems which work with memory.
The study could open the door for further research as: “Remembering when and where to go and for what reasons underpins everything we do, and we all suffer minor failings that can be frustrating and sometimes dangerous,” as co-author, Jemma McCready, explained.
Smells That Enhance
Writing for Psychology Today, Linda Andrews mentions that a number of other scents can also have a positive effect on the mind.
She quotes Bryan Raudenbush, a psychologist at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, who has found that smelling peppermint activates that part of the brain that wakes us up in the morning.
Other research indicates that the scent of jasmine increases the brain waves associated with deep sleep, whereas lavender can decrease a person’s heart rate.
Rachel Herz, author of The Scent of Desire, mentions that smelling vanilla might help to curb the desire to eat dessert after dinner. The sweet scent won’t help on an empty stomach though as its likely to just increase hunger.
London-based blogger, Pippa Green, is desperately looking for memory improving tips; locking the keys in the car is no longer funny.