Changing the way you breathe can help your memory, according to new research. Participants found they could better recall a set of smells when breathing through their nose rather than their mouths, according to a Swedish study from Karolinska Institutet.

They were asked to learn 12 different smells, then asked to breathe through their nose for an hour, before being asked to identify if smells were new or part of the original set.

They then repeated the experiment breathing through their mouths. It was demonstrated that they could remember smells better if they breathed through the nose when the memory is being consolidated – the process that happens between learning and memory retrieval.

Previous research has demonstrated that different parts of the brain are activated by the different phases of inhalation and exhalation.

“The idea that breathing affects our behaviour is actually not new,” says Dr Artin Arshamian, researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institut. “In fact, the knowledge has been around for thousands of years in such areas as meditation. But no one has managed to prove scientifically what actually goes on in the brain. We now have tools that can reveal new clinical knowledge.”

Research into breathing and its effects on the brain has become a popular area in recent years, so we’re sure there will be more advice on the subject to come.