A bold statement I know, and you are probably thinking here she goes again with her strange statements. I had a landmark birthday back in December and as such, I was treated to go to the Fat Duck, the three-Michelin star restaurant owned by chef Heston Blumenthal. I love food and I particularly love theatrics, so it was the perfect birthday present.
Now if any of you wish to go, I do not wish to spoil the surprise, but essentially the memory is designed to play with your perception of food, based on memory, taste, smell and your own perception. Their signature dish is called the sound of the sea, which involves you listening to waves crashing and seagulls squawking through headphones from inside a shell while eating the dish.
At one point during the nearly 4-hour experience, two women dressed all in black approached our table and asked us to follow them. They took us upstairs into their wine cellar, in which there was a table, no chairs, with a glass of red wine at either side. We were asked to taste the wine first, and then they were going to play us a song and put on some lights. We were to carry on sipping the wine throughout. They started flashing red lights in our faces while heavy dramatic music which is more likely to be found in horror films played. As this happened the wine went from tasting full-bodied and fruity to being bitter and dry and tasting like cotton wool in my mouth. It was explained to me that this is because the lights and sound create physiological changes in our body to change our perception of how the wine tasted, our memory of the taste can be impacted through this change in perception.
So why am I telling you this? Because these factors that caused the wine to taste different can be harnessed to help improve your memory for your exam. Sense of smell is closely linked with memory. Do you remember your grandmother’s perfume? Do certain smells bring you back to a particular holiday or time in your life? This phenomenon is known as the “Proust Effect”
As explained by Dr. Ken Heilman, Professor of Neurology and Health Psychology at the University of Florida “Smells do bring back memories. Smell goes into the emotional parts of the brain and the memory parts, whereas words go into thinking parts of the brain.”
When it comes to studying, we can use smell memory to master our exam technique. For example, if you spray an unfamiliar scent while studying and then spray it again right before your exam, you will trigger your memory of the material you previously studied. If you are stressed lavender oil can help you while revising and also in the exam.
There is also a strong link between taste and memories. A 2014 study between the University of Haifa and the Riken Institute, the leading brain research institute in Tokyo, found there is a link between the region of the brain responsible for taste memory, and the area responsible for remembering the time and place we experienced the taste. Therefore like smell, taste triggers memory.
This can be used in your exam. For example, if you chew a flavoured chewing gum that you do not usually chew while studying and then chew it during the exam, the taste has the potential to trigger memories from studying.
There you have it, get playing with tastes and sounds and have it as an extra thing to use in your revision arsenal!