2018 IFRA UK Fragrance Forum

When? 10/10/2018 - 10/10/2018
Where? Wellcome Collection, London, UK

Scentimental – fragrance on the mind

It is that time of year again when the IFRA UK team is busily preparing for its annual Fragrance Form. This is always a key highlight of the year as it provides an opportunity for members to hear from experts in their fields, find out about new research and stimulate discussion in different areas relating to fragrance.
This year the Fragrance Forum event is taking place on World Mental Health Day, Wednesday 10th October at the Wellcome Collection in London.
Our sense of smell has long been associated with our well-being for many decades now - from using fragrance to mask bad odours to creating a sense of ambiance and contentedness to enhance how we feel.  Whilst the body of research in this area is still developing, the way our minds are configured mean that our sense of smell plays a big role in our lives – one that we may not be particularly aware of.
Odour and our emotions
The olfactory cortex is located in the temporal lobe of the brain which processes all kinds of sensory input. It is also part of the limbic system which is made up of the amygdala, hippocampus and the hypothalamus. It is the amygdala that is linked to our emotional responses and memories and that is why the sense of smell can be so evocative, often bringing back memories and emotions. It is, however, worth noting that as our sense of smell is unique and individual to us, our response to odours can trigger different emotional responses both positive and negative.
There is also a growing use of talking therapies to support people with mental health issues, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a key therapy that is increasingly used. The use of odour as part of this type of therapy is becoming more common, and finding the right type of smell can help with creating a sense of calm and relieving anxiety by using odour in a positive way.
Olfaction and neurodegenerative diseases
The interest and research in the area of mental health and neurodegenerative diseases, and the link with olfaction is also a growing one and one that IFRA was keen that the Fragrance Forum focused on. It also follows on specifically from a talk that was part of the 2017 Fragrance Forum by Dr Claire Guest who is the CEO of Medical Detection Dogs, the leading charity training dogs, pioneering both medical assistance and disease detection. This intriguing talk highlighted the use of dogs in detecting diseases using their sense of smell, including Parkinson’s disease as well as a range of cancers. Together with disease detection many dogs have also been trained as assistance dogs to support those with other diseases such as diabetes, using their sense of smell to spot changes in a person’s physiology.
IFRA UK has lined up a range of speakers who will be showcasing different areas of research. As our olfactory sense is located in our limbic system it helps with memories and also impacts on our cognitive functions. It can therefore be useful in research tracking diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Dr Tilo Kunath from Edinburgh University will be talking about the research he has undertaken into the smell of Parkinson’s disease having met Joy Milne, who was able to detect the difference in her husband’s odour before he was diagnosed.  It was this meeting that led to his research and those attending will also be able to hear from Joy herself, along with Professor Perdita Barran from Manchester University whose mass spectrometry unit was also part of the research.
Alzheimer’s disease is the commonest form of dementia and is ever increasing in our ageing population. Olfactory dysfunction in general and impaired odour identification in particular, have been reported in AD and are found to occur at early stages of the disease. Dr Latha Velayudhan, a Senior Clinical Lecturer and Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist working at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscienecs (IoPPN), Kings College London will demonstrate smell identification dysfunction in people with AD compared to people without and the pattern of smell identification deficits (common smells affected) in individuals with AD.
Professor Keith Wesnes, runs Wesnes Cognition Ltd, a consultancy on the conduct and evaluation of cognitive testing, which provides its proprietary online cognitive test system, CogTrack to clinical trials worldwide. He is also Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Exeter Medical School and he will be exploring the link between olfaction and cognitive function and how large online studies offer highly efficient and cost-effective platforms for evaluating both the short and longer term cognitive and mood benefits of fragrances and essential oils in targeted populations.
As part of the same session, Dr Mark Moss, Head of Department of Psychology, Northumbria University will also be talking about why certain smells are ‘hard wired’ into our brain and how it affects our well-being. Dr Moss will explore how our ability to recognise and distinguish between many different plant aromas reflects millennia of their employment for the promotion of health and wellbeing – including stimulation and relaxation.
Olfaction and ambient scent
There is a growing use of ambient scent in our everyday lives from public spaces to more dramatic uses in exhibitions and performances with production companies and businesses using scent-based installations more and more. Moving away from the scientific to the more artistic, we will also be asking the question - can problematic smells act as an agent for good?
Pollution Pods is a touring installation which, in a series of geodesic domes, recreates the air quality of five major cities - through scent, temperature, ozone and humidity. It is using fragrance to make visceral the effects on our physical and mental health of pollution. The artist behind Pollution Pods, Michael Pinsky, and Lizzie Ostrom, who supported the London run, will be giving an insight into the look and smell of the installation. They will share thoughts on where ambient scent and fragrance in public spaces might be heading next, and what the industry could be doing to take advantage of growing interest from brands and institutions. 
This is just a snapshot of the interesting presentations that will be taking place at the 2018 Fragrance Forum and IFRA UK would like to welcome to the event members and non-members alike, who would like to hear more about research taking place in this developing area.
Attendance at the Fragrance Forum is open to IFRA members and non-members. Tickets for the event at the Wellcome Collection are £175 plus VAT (£210)for non-members. For more details and to book tickets please visit