London: Scientists have found that the scent of food given off during the cooking process can trigger positive memories in the brain.
They discovered that the smell of a baked potato can actually make us feel happier.
The majority of participants were uplifted by comforting childhood memories - including favorite grandparents and meals with the family, the Daily Mail reported.
As part of the study, subjects were presented with a Maris Piper, baked in the oven for an hour 140 degrees, and asked if it inspired any feelings.
Dr Avinash Kant, who lead the research, said the positive emotions were triggered by what is called the ‘Maillard Effect’.
“Food aromas and their recognition is a complex brain function which we’ve only recently started to understand,” he said.
“But this research goes some way to explaining why we have such an emotional response to jacket potatoes.
“The aroma compounds formed during the baking process are subconsciously recognized by our memories.
“The memory triggered depends on the experience you had when you first ate a baked potato.
“The majority of our subjects associated it with a positive memory - a favorite grandparent, dinner with their family or bonfire night,” Dr Kant stated.
It is thought the aromas are only released at a hot enough temperature - 130 degrees to 140 degrees.
The research team found microwaving the potato for 15 minutes was not enough to release the aroma compounds.
Simon Bull, who oversaw the study said: “It’s fascinating to learn the combination of the individual aroma compounds formed in a baked potato can trigger the sensory centre in the brain.
“The potato can certainly provide a pleasurable and rich sensory experience,” Bull added.