Are you afraid of falling into the Forgetting Curve? Does this term make you anxious?
The "forgetting curve" is a term coined by the German psychologist Ebbinghaus in 1885 to indicate the speed with which you forget memorized information. Ebbinghaus conducted numerous experiments with regard to memorizing information without meaning, and showed how the loss of memory is very rapid in the period immediately after memorization and then slows down: we forget 50% of the information we learn after a day, 75% after two days (therefore the 25% more) and over 90% after a week. He also observed that to counteract this phenomena, "reviewing" the information helped to slow the forgetting curve, and therefore memory was more likely to become long-term.
Ebbinghaus was criticized both for conducting the studies only on himself and because the information he memorized was meaningless to him and therefore more difficult to remember. Since the late 1800s, numerous studies have been conducted with different memorization techniques, often based on the idea of associating information memorized with an already existing memory or reasoning which seems to help retain the information. However, the "forgetting curve" theory remains the basis of many "review" techniques that students still find themselves applying today in school or work contexts.
But what does this have to do with tasting and aromas to train your sense of smell?
Well, many of us pay little attention to smells on a daily basis except when tasting a wine or attending a tasting evening. At a wine tasting one generally tries to identify and memorize a large number of scents, which probably leads to a sense of accomplishment by the end of the tasting. But how many of these memorized aromas will still be recognizable after a week or two when the tasting group reconvenes for a new session? Unfortunately, as is often the case, very few! This situation can be frustrating. In fact, unless we can immediately associate the aroma with another sensation that we know well or with a strong emotion, many of these "learned" smells will soon be forgotten. Here, in the tasting of a wine, also the number and frequency of tastings is fundamental for rapid learning progress.
It helps us to have a "database" of aromas to review at will before the information is forgotten: TasterPlace Aromas mini-bottle samples, are a perfect tool, or a kitchen pantry always well-stocked with fruit, spices and herbs. The mini-bottles have the advantage in that they are all the same, and therefore facilitate non-cheating when blind testing, by disabling the conditioning of the brain through eyesight.
When using the aroma samples, it is recommended to smell them [blindly] repeatedly until they are easily distinguishable, and again after a couple of days, a week and two weeks. The process will be easy and fun. Once a smell is learned, it helps to associate it with a personal experience or emotion or in comparison with another smell you have learned. This will make it easier to create a more long term memory storage for it. Warning: the first few times it can be physically "tiring" to recognize and memorize many aromas. For this reason we advise you to work in groups of 4 or 5 smells, and move on to others later.
Finally, we must emphasize that the olfactory memory is more powerful, in the long term, than that of eyesight or our other senses, but that it is strongly linked to the emotional sphere and the unconscious. In fact, smells are often difficult to describe rationally, but they can influence our emotional mood and even our dreams!
So, smell and memorize aromas and associate them with your experiences, good or bad. You will build a wealth of memories with which to describe and enrich the experiences you will have in the future.
Have a good workout!
Click here to discover the AROMA collections to train your sense of smell.