Olfactomotor activity during imagery mimics that during perception

Moustafa Bensafi*, Jessica Porter, Sandra Pouliot, Joel Mainland, Bradley Johnson, Christina Zelano, Natasha Young, Elizabeth Bremner, Danny Aframian, Rehan Khan, Noam Sobel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Neural representations created in the absence of external sensory stimuli are referred to as imagery, and such representations may be augmented by reenactment of sensorimotor processes. We measured nasal airflow in human subjects while they imagined sights, sounds and smells, and only during olfactory imagery did subjects spontaneously enact the motor component of olfaction-that is, they sniffed. Moreover, as in perception, imagery of pleasant odors involved larger sniffs than imagery of unpleasant odors, suggesting that the act of sniffing has a functional role in creating of olfactory percepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1142-1144
Number of pages3
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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