The power of smell is a powerful cue for the recall of vivid personal memories and has come to be known as the Proustian Hypothesis. There have been multiple studies conducted on this topic. Rachel Herz at Brown University conducted one of them. In one study, subjects were asked to describe events from their lives that are associated with campfire. While describing a camping trip that subjects took with their families, they then were asked to provide a set of ratings for their memories. These subjects in the experiments rated memories as being vivid and specific. They also described how the memories made them feel and to what degree that they are experiencing the event vividly. In another study conducted by Herz and his colleagues, subjects were placed in an fMRI scanner and they were asked to remember personal events based on presentation of an odor or visual cue.
The odor cue was the scent of a perfume, which the subjects had previously identified as evoking a pleasant, personal memory. The visual cue was a picture of the perfume bottle. As the cue was presented , subjects were asked to consider whether the cue evokes a memory and if so, to think about that memory. The imaging results were clear: the familiar perfume scent cue induced greater activity in a core emotional center of the brain (the amygdala) than the picture of the perfume’s bottle. The results suggest that smells seem to bring vivid memories, and that people relived the event again. I found Proustian Hypothesis very interesting because I have smelled odors and they have brought me memories from the past. I had a cologne a long time ago, and whenever I smell it, it brings me vivid memories from when I was on my 20s (Rosenblum, 2010, p72).