Want to Learn Something New? Stop and Smell the Roses
A new study reveals the floral scent could help you retain information.
Learning new information and tasks can be easy, but retaining all the details is another story. But scientists now say the scent of a rose can help you remember new information. Researchers from the University of Freiburg in Germany published a new study in Scientific Reports titled "How odor cues help to optimize learning during sleep in a real life-setting." For the study, one of the authors tested a total of 54 students from two 6th grade classes in a school in southern Germany. Both sets of children learned English vocabulary and were later given an exam on what they had learned. One group placed rose-scented incense sticks on their desks while they learned the new words, by their beds while they slept, and also had them when they took the test. The second group didn't have the scented sticks in at least one of the different phases of the experiment.
After comparing test answers from both groups, the authors say those who had scent sticks during the learning and sleeping stages were 30% more successful than those who didn't. The study also shows that using incense while taking the exam had a positive effect.
Of course, it's one thing when a theory is successful in a lab or controlled setting, but it's crucial that the average person can use these methods, and one researcher says it's possible. "One particular finding beyond the seminal initial study was that the fragrance also works when it is present all night," Dr. Jürgen Kornmeier, head of the Perception and Cognition Research Group at the Freiburg Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, says in a news release. "This makes the findings suitable for everyday use."
Related: Grow Antique Roses in Your Garden
Although the study used rose-scented sticks, Dr. Kornmeier shared that real roses, perhaps maybe the bouquet you receive for Valentine's day, could also help people retain information. He just says the scent needs to be intense enough that it is associated with learning content. (Maybe that will convince your partner to splurge for the full dozen on February 14.)
If you're really interested in improving your memory, there are a few other scents that could help. Studies note that rosemary can help short-term memory, and other research shows peppermint and ylang-ylang oil can improve cognitive performance. Although those different aromas could help your mind, we love any excuse to buy fresh cut flowers. So, before you attempt to learn something new, head to your garden or local florist for a dozen of brain-boosting roses.