Neuroscience in Perfumery

Neuroscientist Gabriel Lepousez and Edeniste's founder Audrey Semeraro

Audrey Semeraro founder of Edeniste and Gabriel Lepousez, one of the neuroscientists who helped craft Edeniste's wellbeing fragrances

How does Neuroscience help Perfumers create Functional Fragrances ?

Neuroscience is making its way into the world of perfumery. At first glance, you might think the names of perfumes are just a marketing strategy. Indeed, some brands simply target consumer needs and choose the names of their perfumes accordingly. But what about fine perfumery ? Edeniste’s collection of fragrances results from a close collaboration with renowned neuroscientists. This qualitative differentiation shapes the entire philosophy of the Edeniste brand. For the founder, Audrey Semeraro, focusing on wellbeing fragrances based on neuroscientific findings was an obvious choice. Neuroscience has a rightful place in perfumery. Let's find out why.

The Action of Olfactory Molecules on the Brain

To understand the action of olfactory molecules on the brain, let's observe their pathway :

  1. For an element to be detected and become a scent, it must first pass through the olfactory mucosa.
  2. Neurons in the olfactory mucosa transform the chemical message into a nerve impulse. When a link is established between a scent and a receptor, the neuron activates and generates a nerve impulse towards the olfactory bulb in the brain.
  3. From the olfactory bulb, the olfactory information is transmitted to the primary olfactory cortex. These areas form a large, highly interconnected network. Neurons from these regions then project onto the hippocampus and thalamus, as well as onto the secondary olfactory cortex.

In other words, when odorant molecules reach the nasal cavity, they contact the olfactory mucosa. From this mucosa, neurons equipped with molecular olfactory receptors transmit information to the brain.

Most scents are complex, composed of multiple odorant molecules. Thus, a scent is captured by different types of olfactory receptors. According to the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, humans have around 400 different types of olfactory receptors. Each receptor reacts according to the odorant molecules it encounters. Each molecule corresponds to a type of receptor. Any disruption in signal reception alters our perception of scents.

The olfactory system differs from other sensory systems in two key ways:

  1. Sensory information does not pass through the thalamus before reaching the primary olfactory cortex.
  2. Only two or three neurons separate the neuroreceptors from brain regions heavily involved in emotions (amygdala) and memory (entorhinal cortex, hippocampus).

There is indeed a special connection between smell, emotions, and memories, all tied together anatomically.

"In 2021, 87% of the people surveyed desired a perfume that provides emotional and physical benefits – 45% expected a perfume to improve their emotions and comfort." - IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances)

The Role of Neuroscience in Fine Perfumery

Neuroscience is based on scientific studies that analyze the impact of scents on the brain. These scents can come from a single ingredient or a combination of olfactory molecules.

The tools neuroscientists use to visualize the effects of perfumes on the brain include:

  • Electroencephalography (EEG) maps the brain areas activated by different olfactory notes ;
  • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) visualizes which parts of the brain are stimulated by specific notes ;
  • Eye-tracking ;
  • Facial expression recognition ;
  • Heart rate measurement, etc. 

Impact of Neuroscientific Results on Perfumery

Some fragrance houses use artificial intelligence to understand the synergies between ingredients. At Edeniste, the perfumers remain the masters of their composition, selecting the most effective ingredients to serve their original idea.

Edeniste offers a range of 7 wellness perfumes, with a common theme: the Edenade accord, which forms the heart of each Eau de Parfum Active and Eau de Parfum Intense Active from Edeniste.

Scents and Their Influence on Memory and Emotions

In the world of perfumery, understanding how olfactory memory works is essential. We remember a perfume based on the memory and emotion it triggers. This is the foundation that perfumers use to create their scents.

The goal is to associate perfumes with images, colors, textures, and sounds. These emotional evocations can be linked to luxury, seduction, energy or freshness. Each fragrance relates to a specific emotional territory.

Individual experiences activate certain areas of the brain. The same scent is not perceived the same way by everyone and does not trigger the same emotions. Depending on your history and country of origin, the same scent activates different brain areas. For example, lavender is perceived as elegant in England but ordinary in France. Similarly, osmanthus is considered to be nice and exotic in Europe but reminds people of simple air fresheners in Asia.

Emotions triggered by scents change with time depending on the memories we create. By working on the impact of scents on emotions, great perfumers such as Aurélien Guichard and Jérôme Di Marino contribute to creating pleasant memories.

 

Edeniste focuses on the effects of scents on emotions. Thanks to neuroscience, Edeniste fragrances go beyond the pleasure of smelling good. Edeniste has developed "active" accords to meet the need for wellbeing. Some combinations transport you to sensations akin to a walk in nature. Neuroscience makes the beneficial effects on mental and physical health measurable. Smelling good and feeling good is what Edeniste promises with its LifeBoost active essences, validated by fMRI and EEG, which activate positive emotions such as energy, happiness, dreaminess, or confidence.

Learn More About the Methodology Used by Edeniste

 

Sources :

In English

Fragrance Foundation : Merging Neuroscience & Fragrance for Wellbeing

 

In French

Lyon Neuroscience Research Center

Fragrance Foundation : Parfums, neurosciences et émotions : la trilogie qui monte en puissance

Le Figaro Mesurer l'émotion que suscite un cosmétique? Les neurosciences au service de la beauté