It could be a perfume, a particular piece of music or the taste of your favourite food.
The things that remind us of people we love – like our mums – or experiences we’ve had are unique to every person. But it’s not just a coincidence that fish and chips or an ABBA song can conjure up good memories, there’s science behind it too.
So with Mother’s Day on its way, let’s look at the things that remind people of their mums and why that might be…
Music is one of those things that has the power to instantly remind us of certain people or places from our past. So it’s no surprise that the people we asked had specific songs and artists that immediately brought their mums to mind.
Perhaps this comes from years of listening to tuneful (or tuneless) renditions being sung around the house or in the car, but scientists have also confirmed that when we listen to music it engages a broad range of neural networks in our brain, allowing us to link the song to a time, place or person even years afterwards.
Surely one of the UK’s longest running arguments has to be over whose mum makes the best roast dinner. But let’s not be stereotypical here, because for every culinary expert, there will be just as many mums who are remembered for their odd concoctions in the kitchen and meals gone wrong.
Some research suggests that food has the power to make us remember things because it’s the first thing we smell when we approach something new, so it sticks in our mind, while others say that we innately link food with survival and comfort, making the meal times we’ve shared with mothers or our family “precious and memorable”.
Fashion designer Christian Dior once said “a woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting”. We’re not sure how true that is, but we do know that certain scents definitely have the power to conjure up memories of our mums.
Whether it’s perfume, food or another aroma, it all comes down to the nerve which carries information about smells to our brain – the olfactory nerve – which is located very close to the areas of the brain related to emotion and memory, meaning the two often go hand in hand.
If we’ve just reminded you about Mother’s Day, don’t forget – we gave you some alternative gift ideas earlier this week on the blog.