The aroma given off by rosemary essential oil might boost the memory of the elderly, and help them carry out tasks in the future, while lavender fragrance can enhance the mood, says a new study presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Nottingham yesterday, April 27.
The focus of the study is on prospective memory which entails the ability to recall events to happen in the future in order to bring certain tasks to completion at their specific times. This faculty is extremely important in our day-to-day life: basically, this is what enables us to do certain (time-based) tasks at particular scheduled times, like remembering to take medication after lunch, or to meet someone at noon, and another form of this is event-based, that is, to do some task at the occurrence of an event, like to post a letter when seeing a post box.
A group of 150 people aged over 65 participated in the study. Some of them were made to enter a room where rosemary and lavender essential oil had been diffused, and others entered a room with no scent. They all took tests evaluating their prospective memory in the room itself: for instance, they were to remember to transmit a message at a particular time (time-based), and to change tasks with the occurrence of a particular event (event-based). The moods of the participants were also assessed.
The results show that rosemary aroma is linked with enhanced prospective memory. Also, both rosemary and lavender were found to influence the moods of the people: the former causes greater alertness while the latter leads to increased calmness and contentedness.
Commenting on the findings, study co-author, Lauren Bussey, explains that their findings support previous ones that suggest rosemary essential oil aroma can boost cognition in healthy adults, and that the new element brought by them is a similar effect in health adults over the age of 65.