Smell and Memory Answers and Questions

The Blog post contains the following IELTS Reading Questions:

  • IELTS Reading Multiple Choice Questions
  • IELTS Reading Summary Completion
  • IELTS Reading Matching Features

Stay informed and prepared for success – Explore our comprehensive Reading Test Info page to get valuable insights, exam format details, and expert tips for mastering the IELTS Reading section.

IELTS reading passage – Smell and Memory 

Smell and Memory

Why might the aroma of a perfume or the mustiness of an old trunk bring back such vivid childhood memories? The solution has been discovered, claims Alexandra Witze.

You likely focus on a newspaper with your eyes rather than your nose. But raise the paper to your nose and take a deep breath. You may be transported back to your youth when your parents read the newspaper on Sunday mornings when you smell newsprint. Perhaps another smell, such as your mother’s perfume or the smokiness of a driftwood bonfire, brings back memories for you. A rush of memories might be triggered by certain smells. It is known as the “Proustian phenomenon,” after the French author Marcel Proust. Proust’s narrator dips a madeleine biscuit into a cup of tea near the start of his masterpiece In Search of Lost Time. and the taste and smell trigger 3000 pages’ worth of childhood memories.

This phenomena is now being studied scientifically. Scientists have learned, for instance, how sensory memories are shared throughout the brain, with various brain regions remembering the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds of a particular experience. This discovery was made by cognitive neuroscientist Rachel Herz at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Nevertheless, psychological studies have shown that memories brought on by smells can be both more emotional and more specific than memories not brought on by odors. Odour molecules cause brain cells in the amygdala, an area of the brain that aids in emotion management, to dance as you inhale. The other senses, like taste and touch, however, travel through other regions of the brain before they reach the amygdala. The emotional power of fragrances may be explained by the direct relationship between odors and the amygdala. According to Rachel Herz, there is a special relationship between the sense of smell and the area of the brain that manages emotions.

But, the links go on. The memory of scents also influences other parts of the brain, like the tentacles of an octopus extending outward. In recent experiments, neuroscientists at University College London (UCL) instructed 15 volunteers to see photographs while inhaling unrelated scents. For instance, after viewing a photograph of a duck and its fragrance, the participants would be asked to create a story that connects the two. The olfactory cortex, which is known to be involved in processing scents, was shown to be particularly active in the participants’ brains during the time of the brain scans. The volunteers saw the duck image again five minutes later, but this time without the scent of roses. The olfactory cortex in their brains also lit up once more, according to a recent study. The fact that the olfactory cortex activated when the odor was absent shows that people’s sensory memories of events are distributed around several different parts of the brain. According to Jay Gottfried, team leader at UCL, picture taking a vacation by the sea. While the sound of the surf and the smell of seaweed travel to many locations, the sight of the waves remains in one place. The spread of memories across the brain might have benefits. “Any one of the sensory inputs can trigger that memory,” Gottfried says. “Maybe the scent of sun lotion, a particular sound from that day, or the sight of a rock formation.” In the case of an early hunter and gatherer (out on a plain), the sight of a lion may be enough to make them flee, rather than having to wait for the sound of its roar and the stink of its hide to take effect.

According to Herz, remembered fragrances may also carry extra emotional burden. According to her findings, memories evoked by odors are more emotional than memories triggered by other stimuli. Herz selected five volunteers in one recent study who had distinct recollections related with a specific scent, such as opium for Ladies and Juniper Breeze from Bath and Body Works. She took pictures of the volunteers’ brains when they inhaled that scent and another unconnected perfume, not knowing which one was which. (They were also shown photos of each perfume bottle.) When the volunteers smelt the specific perfume, their brains were most active, particularly in the amygdala and the hippocampus, which aid in memory formation. Herz’s findings were published in the journal Neuropsychologia earlier this year.

Yet she couldn’t be certain that the other senses wouldn’t trigger a strong response as well. In another study, Herz contrasted odors with noises and images. She asked 70 respondents to recall an emotional recollection involving three things: popcorn, freshly cut grass, and a campfire. The products were then compared using views, sounds, and fragrances. For example, the user may view a lawnmower image, then smell grass, and finally listen to the machine’s sound. Memories triggered by smell were more evocative than those triggered by sight or sound.

Odor-evoked memories may be both more emotional and more detailed. Collaborating with colleague John Downes, University of Liverpool psychologist Simon Chu began exploring scent and memory in part because of his grandmother’s recollections about Chinese culture. They would pass a tiny pot of spice or incense around as generations met to tell oral tales; afterwards, when they wished to remember the story with as much information as possible, they would pass the same smell around again. “That corresponds with a lot of anecdotal data about how odors may be incredibly good recalls of earlier experiences,” adds Chu. Scientific study appears to back up the anecdotes. Chu and Downes recruited 42 volunteers to recount a life story, then tried to see if odors like coffee and cinnamon may help them remember more information in the story. They could.

Despite these research, not everyone is convinced that Proust can be studied scientifically. Chu and Downes exchanged criticism with famous perfumer and chemist J. Stephan Jellinek in the June issue of Chemical Senses. Jellinek chastised the Liverpool researchers for, among other things, presenting the fragrances and requesting people to recall memories, rather than investigating what memories were spontaneously elicited by the odors. Nevertheless, as Chu points out, science can only do so much to examine a phenomenon that is intrinsically unique to each individual. Meanwhile, Jellinek has been gathering anecdotal stories of Proustian events in the hopes of discovering any. “There is an argument to be made that surprise may be a big component of the Proust phenomenon,” he adds. “That’s why these recollections have such an impact on people.” Nobody knows if Proust ever had a mystical experience. But, his ideas about memory, which he wrote as fiction nearly a century ago, continue to influence scientists today.

Unlock your full potential in the IELTS Reading section – Visit our IELTS Reading Practice Question Answer page now!

Recommended Questions:

Renewable Energy IELTS Reading Question with Answer

Smell and Memory Reading Questions 

Questions 1-4 

Choose the correct letter A, B, C, or D.

Write your answers in boxer 6-9 on your answer sheet.

1. What is demonstrated in paragraph B by the trials carried out by Herz and other researchers?

  • Opium medicine can lead to addiction more easily in women.
  • When it comes to the brain, smell is superior than other senses.
  • Scent has greater significance than other senses.
  • A specific region of the brain links smell with emotion.

2. What is the implication of Herz’s second experiment?

  • The second result directly contradicts the first.
  • Her initial experiment’s findings are accurate.
  • Similar amounts of memories are triggered by sounds and sights.
  • The experiment’s ideal example is a lawnmower.

3. What was the result of an experiment Chu and Downes conducted?

  • According to Chinese custom, smell is the sole sense that matters. 
  • Half of the volunteers shared in-depth narratives.
  • Some fragrances can help storytellers.
  • Cinnamon smells more potent than coffee does.

4. What is Jellinek’s response to Chu and Downes’ discussion on chemical senses?

  • Jellinek said that their experiment was not scientific.
  • Jellinek believed that Liverpool was an unsuitable location for an experiment.
  • Jellinke claimed there was no further indication of what specific memories had triggered.
  • According to Jellinek, the experiment might be fixed.

Ready to improve your performance in Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)? Click here to access our comprehensive guide on how to tackle MCQs effectively in the IELTS Reading section.

Questions 5-8 

Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage

Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the Reading Passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 5-8 on your answer sheet.

In the UCL trials, participants were invited to gaze at a picture with the aroma of a flower, then in the next stage, everyone had to 5………………………..for a connection.
A approach known as 6………………………suggested that a certain area of the brain known as 7…………………….was quite active. Later, in another similar trial involving Chinese seniors, storytellers could recollect vivid anecdotes while smelling a bowl of 8………………….. or incense nearby.

Boost your performance in Summary, Notes, Table, and Flowchart Completion tasks. Click here to explore our detailed guide and learn how to effectively complete summaries, notes, tables, and flowcharts in the IELTS Reading section.

Questions 9-13 

Use the information in the passage to match the people (listed A-C) with opinions or deeds below. Write the appropriate letters A-C in boxes 9-13 on your answer sheet. NB You may use any letter more than once

  • Rachel Herz
  • Simon Chu
  • Jay Gottfried

9. The discovered pattern of various sensory memories kept in various brain regions.
10.The aroma of a certain chemical conjures up specific events. 
11. Smell has a different relationship with particular brain regions than do other senses.
12. We can avoid the risk thanks to the information’s several storage sites.
13. Smell and the processing region of the brain are not always related.

Improve your performance in Matching Features questions by clicking here to access our comprehensive guide. Learn how to match specific features or characteristics with the options provided in the IELTS Reading section.

Unlock your full potential in the IELTS Reading section – Visit our IELTS Reading Practice Question Answer page now!

Recommended Questions:

Renewable Energy IELTS Reading Question with Answer

Smell and Memory Reading answers

1. D
2. B 
3. C 
4. C
9. A 
10. B
11. A 
12. C
13. C 


We hope you found this post useful in helping you to study for the IELTS Test. If you have any questions please let us know in the comments below or on the Facebook page.

The best way to keep up to date with posts like this is to like us on Facebook, then follow us on Instagram and Pinterest. If you need help preparing for the IELTS Test, join the IELTS Achieve Academy and see how we can assist you to achieve your desired band score. We offer an essay correction service, mock exams and online courses.

Scroll to Top