September 07, 2005

Sense Memory

So I'm sitting here in DH's classroom. Tomorrow is the first day of school, and we're taking care of the last few odds and ends in getting the room ready: putting up the last few posters, getting rid of an extra filing cabinet, moving the tables around. DH himself is in a Pow Wow with two of the other middle school science teachers, planning for Science Fair,

But I digress. One of the more interesting things I learned in my neuroscience education was that sense memory, especially smell memory, is stronger than any other. As I sit here in the classroom waiting for DH, the school marching band is on the practice field, getting ready for football season. The band room must be nearby as well, because I could hear the drum line from the moment they started the cadence.

It about gave me chills.

For 2 years in high school (until my schedule got too full with AP classes) I was in colorguard. Some of my best friends were in the band, so it was like I never left. Just hearing the band reminded me of sweaty afternoons on the practice field, tripping in holes, arms aching from lugging a 40 pound shield around all day.

In college, neither of us was in band, but DH's best friend was an active member of the Spirit of Troy USC Trojan Marching Band, and wherever we went with him, there was always the band. We'd sit next to the band at football and hockey (yes, the band went to hockey games).

In any case, the drum line isn't so bad. A little slow at the end of the cadence, but all together, so you wouldn't be able to tell if you were simply a casual observer. It's actually quite comforting.

I actually miss those days. And yes, if you run into me in an elevator on a rainy day, I AM doing a colorguard flag routine with my closed umbrella :)

Posted by caltechgirl at September 7, 2005 10:42 AM | TrackBack

From what I've read in the past, smell is the most "primitive" sense, almost literally a direct receptor of the brain to what's in the air, and so it seems to be heavily tied to memory because of the way our brains evolved.

Posted by: Jay at September 7, 2005 10:59 AM

Actually, there are direct neural connections between "smell" cortex in the temporal/fronto-temporal cortex and both the amygdala, which does emotional memory and coordinates memory processing, and the prefrontal cortex. These direct connections don't exist for the other senses, but it's thought that the "dual" memory of both the experience and the sensory input may help reinforce sense memories more strongy than others.

Posted by: caltechgirl at September 7, 2005 11:05 AM

So that was YOU in the elevator!!!

I was in marching band... tons of great memories. Tons.

Posted by: Marie at September 8, 2005 12:32 PM