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Simons Foundation: Sensing a Memory

Community Culture Education


6:00 pm – 8:00 pm


Simons Foundation
160 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, 10010

Does the aroma of freshly baked cookies transport you back to your childhood kitchen? Or does the scent of fresh-cut grass evoke nostalgia for long summer days? Out of all our senses, smell is the most closely linked to our memories and emotions. Not only are smells anchors for connecting with our past, but they also play a major role in our sense of taste. Around 80 percent of the flavors we perceive arise from our sense of smell due to the interplay of aromatic molecules released when we bite into food or sip a drink. Simons Society of Fellows Junior Fellow and neuroscientist Lynn Yap studies how sensory experiences like smells relate to learning and memory. She is especially interested in the origins of phantom smells (called olfactory illusions) that occur even when there’s nothing to sniff. These hallucinations are a higher-order cognitive process shaped by prior experiences and expectations. Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, is fascinated by sensory illusions and has hidden them within some of the company’s experimental brews as surprising and playful ways to engage people beyond their sense of taste. Join them for a conversation with science journalist and comedian Kyle Marian Viterbo to explore the curious ways our senses can evoke memories (and vice versa) and the intertwined nature of scent and taste.

Doors open: 5:30 p.m. (No entrance before 5:30 p.m.)

In Conversation: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. (Admittance closes at 6:20 p.m.)

Reception: 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Registration is required!

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