Dr. Jean Pacifico-Banta sheds light on why smells trigger memories
Dr. Jean Pacifico-Banta, a 20-year pediatric occupational therapist and mom of two, has been sharing her wisdom on the Petite ‘n Pretty’s Advisory Board since day one, helping us create the best possible products, both in terms of design and formula, that encourage young creatives to develop important skills and have fun with creative self-expression. When we made Cloud Mine, our signature-sweet fruity-meets-floral scent, we knew we wanted it to smell like our summer breaks of yore — long days at the beach, fresh flowers, trips to the fair — which got us thinking, why do smells trigger memories?
Naturally, we turned to our resident pediatric pro for answers — and parental as well as professional assessment of our new favorite fragrance. Here’s what Dr. Pacifico-Banta had to say about the fascinating connection between scent and memory (and what Cloud Mine reminds her of).
Why Do Smells Trigger Memories?
Aromas or smells can transport you back to a specific place and time, evoking vivid memories and feelings. This is in large part due to the direct connection between the olfactory sense and the limbic system. The olfactory sense is the sensory system that detects and processes smell. This sensory system helps us discriminate safe or dangerous odors, as well as distinguish pleasant smells from bad odors. Our sense of smell shapes our overall daily experiences and memories we create.
During the inhalation, sensory receptors in the nose cavity first receives sensory stimuli in the form of smell or odor. The olfactory stimuli or smell is then processed by the olfactory bulb, a structure along the base of the front part of the brain. The olfactory bulb has a direct neural pathway to the amygdala and hippocampus which form part of the limbic system responsible for emotional experiences and memories.
Is the Connection Between Scent and Memory Different For Kids and Adults?
Generally speaking, the connection between scent and memory is the same for kids and adults. The difference is how the olfactory system changes with age, which holds true for other sensory systems, such as gustatory (sense of taste) and vestibular system (sense for balance and movement). However, the brain is an amazing organ. While the brain is most flexible during the early childhood years, it has the ability to change continuously as one ages. This enables us to continuously create new neural connections and allows us to learn new information, develop new skills, and create new memories including those formed through the association with our senses such as smell.
How is the Connection Between Scent and Memory Important for Kids?
For children, creating memories with strong association to emotional and sensory experiences can be a powerful and positive means for supporting their overall development including developing their sense of self.
What Did You and Your Daughter Think of Cloud Mine?
We both love it – from the design of the product and packaging to the scent of Cloud Mine!
Did the Smell of Cloud Mine Bring Back Any Memories for You?
Cloud Mine has a sweet scent with hints of vanilla. It reminded me of all the candies I used to eat as a child during the holidays! However, discovering Cloud Mine together with my daughter will always remind me now of her and how her face lit up when she first smelled Cloud Mine.
Do You Think Cloud Mine is a Good First Fragrance for Young Creatives?
Absolutely! From a parent perspective, I love the sweet, vanilla, cotton candy-like scent of Cloud Mine. It has a distinct, but subtle fragrance — not overpowering like most products in the market. From an occupational therapist’s lens, Cloud Mine may be a good option for girls who have a smaller threshold or tolerance for sensory information like smell because its scent is more subtle.
Creating a Fragrance That's Unforgettable
We’ve all had those moments: suddenly taken off guard by a whiff that takes us back to a specific time and place or even just a feeling we can’t shake. That’s what Cloud Mine does, but what we love most about it is the new memories it creates with you and your young creatives as the first fragrance they’ll never forget.
For more inspiration from our amazing community of Moms, check out blogger Stephanie’s Prosa’s Q&A on creativity, body positivity and raising three beautiful girls to be themselves. For more information behind the inspiration for Petite ‘n Pretty’s safe makeup for kids (and fragrance!), check out this message from our founder — another creative-loving, beauty-disrupting mom.