Aromas During Sleep Help Cognitive Functioning

Scientists discovered that aromas might improve elderly individuals' memories and prevent dementia.

Aromatic scents are always pleasant but now, experts say they can even help with memories and cognitive functioning in older individuals.

Neuroscientists from the University of California, Irvine dispersed several scents in older individuals' bedrooms for two hours each night for six months as part of their study.

The findings, published in the Frontiers of Neuroscience, offer a fresh viewpoint on how scent and memory are related. For the study, seven cartridges containing a different natural oil were provided to the participants, along with a diffuser.

The same oils were given to the control group, but much less of them. They were instructed to emit the aroma for two hours while they slept each night using various cartridges. At the end of the study, the results revealed a 226% boost in cognitive ability.

The olfactory sense has the special privilege of being directly connected to the brain's memory circuits.

- Michael Yassa of the University of California, Irvine

Both teams performed a word list test to gauge memory after consuming all seven cartridges. Brain imaging revealed improved structural integrity in the age-related deterioration of the medial temporal lobe-prefrontal cortex link. According to the statement, the participants also mentioned that they slept better.

"All the other senses are routed first through the thalamus. Everyone has experienced how powerful aromas are in evoking recollections, even from very long ago. However, unlike with vision changes that we treat with glasses and hearing aids for hearing impairment, there has been no intervention for the loss of smell," continued Yassa.

Over 70 neurological and mental conditions, such as Alzheimer's and other dementias, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, and alcoholism, are predictors of odor loss.

Those who have the APOE e4 gene mutation, which has been associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, may suffer the early stages of the disorder by losing their sense of smell, according to a study published in July by researchers at the University of Chicago.

Additionally, scents, particularly those found in perfumes and room fresheners, have a bigger influence on the cosmetic and pharmaceutical sectors due to their long-known effects on human psychophysiological functioning, according to a 2016 research that was published in the journal Scientia Pharmaceutica.

The team concludes that it is crucial to pay more attention to the new dementia care intervention of using odors to improve memory.

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