As a person inhales, air and scent molecules move past the smell receptors in the nose. In turn, the smell receptors relay a signal to the brain. Smells can trigger memories and emotional responses.
Review Date 8/31/2021
Updated by: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.