SCIENCE EXPERIMENT


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1. THE ESSAY

 

Does smell enhance memory?

 

Abstract:

    

    Everyone wants to have a better memory. We’re always trying to find ways to enhance out memory. What if all it took to remember something was a scent? This project tests whether or not scent actually affects the memory. Three test subjects will be asked to participate in an experiment in which they are asked to memorize a series of ten random words, the first time without, and one time with scent. My hypothesis is that the smell will enhance the memory of the words, and I predict that the subject’ll be able remember at least two more items from the list with the scent than without the scent. 

    

Question: 

 

    Does smell enhance your memory?

 

 

Variables:

 

    Independent Variable: Things that they have to remember, the scent

    Dependent Variable: The amount of things that they can remember

    Constant Variable: Place, people, time, the number of things to remember

 

Hypothesis:

 

    My hypothesis is that the smell will enhance memory. I think that they’ll be able to remember at least two more items with the scent than without the scent.


Background Research:

 

    Noses come in all shapes and sizes, but they all serve the same job-to help you smell. The nose has thousands of tiny hairs that twitch and absorb scents, then those scents travel to the brain, making you able to identify what you’re smelling. 

    The part of the brain that smells and recognizes scents is right next to the part the brain that stores the memories. If you’ve ever smelled vanilla, then thought about your grandmother’s cake, then you were experiencing smell-triggered memories. The brain likes to use shortcuts, and it dovetails things together to save energy and space. Your brain will use something called association, and they’ll connect the neurons (the little cells that store memories) of one item with the neurons of another. This means that scents can be associated with certain things. This has been proven in numerous studies.

    In one study, a certain subject experienced vivid memories when smelling the scent of parmesan cheese. In another study, a person smelled lilies and was reminded of a recent funereal. In other words, scent really DOES effect memory.

 

Materials List:

 

-6 lists of random words

-3 test subjects

-Timer

-1 scent

 

Experimental Procedure:

 

Write 10 words on a piece of paper. Gather a test subject. Let the person read over the words for 45 seconds, then take the words away. Wait 2 minutes, then ask the person to say the words that were on the list. Look over the list and see how many words the person missed. Record data. Repeat steps 1-6 again, keeping the same subject, but this time, allow them to smell a scent when they look at the list, and whenever they are trying to recite the list. Repeat steps 1-7. Every time after you use the smell with the subject, use another subject.

 

Data Analysis and Discussion:

 

     According to my experiment, smell does enhance your memory. 2 out of 3 tests revealed that, with scent, you can remember more. For subject one, on the test without scent, they remembered seven out of ten words, but, with the scent, they remembered nine out of ten words, which is two more than they remembered without the scent. With subject two, on the test without scent, they remembered seven out of ten words, the same results as subject one on the first test. On the test with scent though, though, subject two remembered seven out of ten as well, which is no improvement. Subject three, on the test without scent, remembered a mere five out of ten words. As for the test with scent, subject three remembered eight out of ten, a big improvement from the first test. The average number of items remembered out of ten without scent was 6, while the average number of items remembered out of ten with scent was 8. Overall, even though there isn’t a huge difference between the number of items remembered without scent and the number of items remembered with scent, there still is a difference between them-a difference of two.

Conclusion:

    My hypothesis was that scent did enhance memory, and that there would be an improvement of at least two more items remembered using the scent. My results do support my hypothesis.

    The tests went pretty smooth. The only problem that I had was that some of my subjects didn’t want to cooperate, so I had to do the tests again and again.

    A future study might involve having more than one scent, more test subjects, and a list of longer words to see which scents work the best for enhancing your memory.

Acknowledgements:

    I’d like to thank all of my test subjects for participating in my tests.

 

 

 

 

 

WORK CITED:

http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/human-nature/perception/smell3.htm

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-babble/201501/smells-ring-bells-how-smell-triggers-memories-and-emotions

http://www.fifthsense.org.uk/what_is_smell/psychology/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/08/06/smells-trigger-memories.aspx

http://www.livescience.com/50525-why-odors-spark-memory-podcast.html

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