If your memory is a little lax, you might want to start growing rosemary in your home. (Or at least invest in some diffuser oil.)
They also discovered that drinking peppermint tea could improve long term memory and alertness.
Experts said that while the difference is small, it could mean the difference between forgetting to take medication or not - which could save a person's life.
To test the effects of rosemary on memory retention, researchers randomly allocated 150 pensioners to rooms with either a rosemary aroma, lavender aroma or no scent at all.
The participants were then given a simple memory challenge.
Researchers found that those placed in the room with a rosemary aroma performed better on the memory test than others.
Dr Mark Moss, head of the department of psychology at Northumbria, said: "My working hypothesis is that when you inhale rosemary its compounds are absorbed in the blood through the lungs and then are sent to the brain where they can actually act on your brain chemistry."
The same group of researchers also looked at the effects of peppermint tea and chamomile tea on memory.
In a study of 180 people, researchers found peppermint tea helped to improve long term memory, working memory and alertness.
Meanwhile chamomile tea significantly slowed memory and attention speed.
Dr Moss noted that it was "interesting" to see the herbal teas' differing effects on mood and cognition.
He said: "The enhancing and arousing effects of peppermint and the calming/sedative effects of chamomile observed in this study are in keeping with the claimed properties of these herbs and suggest beneficial effects can be drawn from their use."
The research was presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Nottingham.
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