Whiffs of Perception: Sniffing activates the mind's nose | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


Whiffs of Perception: Sniffing activates the mind's nose

12:20pm, November 12, 2003

A rose by any other name smells as sweet, even when you only conjure up its fragrance in your mind. That's because people use their noses to sniff imaginary as well as real aromas, and the mere act of sniffing scentless air kick-starts odor perception, a new study finds.

Behaviors, such as sniffing, that are used to acquire sensations do themselves activate brain representations of those sensations, concludes a research team led by Moustafa Bensafi of the University of California, Berkeley.

"Sniffing is not just a way to pick up smells, it's a part of olfactory perception," says Berkeley psychologist Noam Sobel, a coauthor of the new study.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content