Nose-breathing boosts memory, study finds
Nasal inhalation may help us retain olfactory memories longer.
- A new study confirms a suspected connection between the nose and memory.
- Twenty-four subjects memorized 12 smells delivered through a nasal cannula during two training sessions.
- The results of the experiments suggest we can consolidate memories by breathing through our nose.
Scientists have been intrigued for some time about the effect that breathing has on the brain, and Big Think has discussed this before. Now, a new study, published this month in The Journal of Neuroscience, nails down the link between breathing through one's nose — as opposed to one's mouth — and the robust storage of memories.
"The idea that breathing affects our behaviour is actually not new. In fact, the knowledge has been around for thousands of years in such areas as meditation," said Artin Arshamian, the lead author of the study, which took place at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet. "But no one has managed to prove scientifically what actually goes on in the brain. We now have tools that can reveal new clinical knowledge."
How the study tested the effect of nose-breathing on memory
Nasal cannula. Photo credit: S. Bonaime/Shutterstock
One stumbling block to understanding how breathing through the nose affects the brain is that scientists' typical subjects — mice and rats — don't breathe through their nose. Therefore, sniffing out the truth of the matter requires human subjects. And, appropriately enough, the experiments involved smells.
The study's 24 subjects memorized 12 smells delivered through a nasal cannula during two training sessions. Afterward, they were given an hour off during which they were instructed to breathe exclusively through either their mouths or noses.
This was followed by exposure to a variety of scents, some of which were from their training sessions and some of which were new. Subjects were asked to differentiate between the two.
What the scientists found was that those who'd breathed through their noses during their hour off were more likely to recognize the scents from training sessions, suggesting that their nose-breathing had more effectively stored what they'd learned.
Easier research implicated receptors in the olfactory bulb that can detect both scents and variations in airflow. Scientists have also seen different areas of the brain exhibit activity during inhaling and exhaling, but how this all ties together is as of yet unknown.
Arshamain tells KI News:
"The next step is to measure what actually happens in the brain during breathing and how this is linked to memory. This was previously a practical impossibility as electrodes had to be inserted directly into the brain. We've managed to get round this problem and now we're developing, with my colleague Johan Lundström, a new means of measuring activity in the olfactory bulb and brain without having to insert electrodes."
- Breathing Through The Nose Can Enhance Your Memory Recall ... ›
- Take a Deep Breath: Inhaling the Right Way May Improve Your ... ›
- Breathing through your nose BOOSTS your memory | Daily Mail Online ›
- Study: Breathing through Nose Enhances Memory Consolidation in ... ›
- Immediate effect of nostril breathing on memory performance. ›
- Breathing through the nose aids memory storage -- ScienceDaily ›
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.
- Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
- The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
- Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
10 of the most sandbagging, red-herring, and effective logical fallacies.
- Many an otherwise-worthwhile argument has been derailed by logical fallacies.
- Sometimes these fallacies are deliberate tricks, and sometimes just bad reasoning.
- Avoiding these traps makes disgreeing so much better.
For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.
- In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
- This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
- Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.