Maybe you’ve learned to dislike the smell. Maybe your socks are full of gross bacteria. Or maybe, it’s both. Our team studies the brain and sense of smell – it’s one of our favorite topics. But first, how do you smell?
What is that smell?
The air is filled with many small odor molecules that are released from “smelly” things like perfume or food. Your nose has the astonishing ability to smell thousands of different scents because in your nose are millions of smell receptors– cells that can recognize odor molecules. When you sniff the air, these special cells are alerted.
These receptor cells then send a signal to your brain. Your brain recognizes many scents when different types of odors enter your nose. The smell of baking cookies, for instance, is composed of many odor molecules. Your brain can piece together all this information and let you know there are cookies baking in the oven.
Smells that make memories
Your brain is very good at memorizing good and bad experiences and associating particular smells with them. Scientists call these “olfaction-associated memories.”
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