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The Effect of Smell on Access to Future Thoughts

12 May 2017

This study is no longer running please see the main experiments page -


The link between smell and memory is well established both anecdotally and experimentally. Odours have the capacity to evoke strong reminders of one’s past experiences and can affect recall of other learned information. Smells might also influence speed of access to and speed of recalling memories.

Instead of the past, this study is focused on the future. This study will look at how smells might influence access to thoughts about your prospective/imagined future experiences, situations and achievements. In other words, autobiographical thoughts about your potential near and distant future.  


You will be reimbursed £20 for taking part.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to take part in the study it is essential that you meet the following criteria:

  • You are aged 18-40 years old (inclusive)
  • You are a non-smoker
  • Not currently of ill health (e.g. cold, flu)
  • No known problems in your sense of smell or taste
  • You have normal or corrected vision, i.e. glasses, lenses
  • You are able to comfortably use a computer keyboard & mouse

Before arrival at the session it is essential that you

  • Do not wear or smell of perfume/cologne or fragrances
  • Are of good health and not suffering from ailments interfering with your ability to smell (e.g. cold, hay fever, nasal allergies etc.)
  • You do not eat a large meal, strong flavours or drink anything other than water in the hour before the experiment
  • You refrain from exercising in the hour before coming into the session

If you arrive at the session having not met with these requirements, you will be unable to take part.

Further information

If you would like to take part, please complete this short (2min) questionnaire.

Eligible participants will be contacted as soon as possible with details on how to sign

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