An in-depth review of the methods, findings, and theories associated with odor-evoked autobiographical memory

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Description: Over the past nearly 35 years, there has been sporadic interest in what has commonly come to be known as the Proust phenomenon, whereby autobiographical memories are retrieved and experienced differently when evoked by odors as compared to other types of cues, such as words, images or sounds. The purpose of this review is three-fold. First, we provide a detailed analysis of the methods used to investigate Proust effects. Second, we review and analyze the various findings from the literature and determine what we feel to be the most important and stable findings. Third, we provide a series of previously postulated and new hypotheses that attempt to account for the various findings. Given the early stage of research, the current review aims to provide a measure of organization to the field, as well serve as a guide for how future investigations may address the topic. We conclude with the recommendation that research in this area shift its focus from establishing the phenomenon towards explaining its causes.

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