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Science of perfume

Science of Perfumes and Smelling

It takes great effort to understand all the mechanisms that lead to the perfect sensation of smell. The problem is even bigger because of the interaction of the sense of taste with the sense of smell. So we mostly have to deal with neuro-transition and interpretation of scent signals from the nose. 

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Olfactory region connected to emotion and memory

The olfactory region of the brain, where smells are processed, is connected to many other brain regions, such as those involved in emotion (the amygdala), memory (the hippocampus) and multisensory regions (the orbitofrontal cortex). In effect, through its connections, our olfactory system forms a kind of ‘super-highway’ to memories or emotions. Odour messages are interpreted by all these different parts of the brain to evoke a response in the form of thoughts, feelings and actions.

Scientists are increasingly aware of ways that human senses can be harnessed to manage our own well-being – so fragrance can now be designed to stimulate the best emotional experience possible; the perfect relaxing fragrance for a warm soak in the bath or for laundering sheets to encourage a good night’s sleep.



Transduction

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Sensory coherence? It makes sense

The meaning of scent signals can also be influenced by the context in which we experience them; by product packaging and even the time or place. Designers are increasingly aware of the need to address holistic product design, to create sensory coherence that amplifies brand messages – what’s on the pack must match the scent inside – as Jennifer describes: “When developing fragrances, we have to be careful not to confuse the brain. For example, we might sense a mismatch if we smell a relaxing fragrance packaged in an ‘invigorating’ colour. That’s because the messages on a product set up an expectation as to how that product will smell. We automatically look for visual cues that can fast track us to the experience we seek, such as being soothed, or invigorated. This is why visual cues are important, and helpful.”

Getting ‘more’ from your fragrance

Influencing the way in which people experience a perfume through colours, presentation or context is nothing new to marketers, but the insights of sensory science increasingly explain why we perceive perfumes in a certain way. For the brands of tomorrow, Jennifer states, fragrances will not only be a scent statement about the brands we use, but look set to become part of our own sensory management. “As we become more knowledgeable, there is a trend towards fragrances that ‘do more’ and offer an extra boost. This is being led by the wellness field, a domain that continues to grow. For example, fragrances may be used to optimise lifestyle: they can be designed to be relaxing, uplifting, reduce stress or help with sleep. These are small things, but they improve quality of life. Our in-house team of neuroscientists works with the fragrance development teams during the creative process to build in such benefits. We can already boost the technical properties of fragrance, as in how it functions, performs and lasts, and we are now also exploring how it could impact or improve people’s emotional state and well-being.”

So, what does the future of fragrance look like? Will exam rooms be filled with focus-sharpening scents? Could we quash arguments with aromatics? Perhaps the answer to some of our pressing problems is right under our nose

 Source: www.givaudan.com

Even if we understand the sensing of scent it is difficult to interpret sensations of different chemicals. There we don’t have only the sensation of one specific molecule but an accord of many substances, which do not only physically affect us, but also have huge impact on our perception in a psychological view. That gives us an opportunity to create, not only to compound fragrances.

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