A method for generating olfactory stimuli for humans within a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experimental design is described. The system incorporates a nasal-mask in which the change from odorant to no-odorant conditions occurs in less than 500 ms and is not accompanied by visual, auditory, tactile, or thermal cues. The mask provides an ordorant-free environment following prolonged ordorant presence. Specific imaging parameters that are conducive to the study of the human olfactory system are described. In a pilot study performed using these methods, the specific patterns of activation observed converged with published experimental and clinical findings.