Odor-induced changes in taste perception
We investigated odor-induced changes in taste perception (OICTP), by examining the influence of strawberry and soy sauce odors on perceived sweetness (Experiment 1) and saltiness (Experiment 2). We explored whether taste-smell interactions occur at the central level, by delivering odorants (strawberry, soy sauce, odorless water) and tastants (sucrose, sodium chloride) separately, and whether effects of imagined odors are comparable to those of physically presented odors. We found specific taste-smell interactions: sweetness enhancement induced by strawberry odor and saltiness enhancement induced by soy sauce odor. These interactions were elicited with separate delivery of olfactory and gustatory stimuli. Secondly, we found a similar but rather limited effect with the imagined odors: imagined strawberry enhanced perceived sweetness of water solutions, and imagined soy sauce enhanced perceived saltiness of weak sodium chloride solutions. We concluded that OICTP is a centrally mediated phenomenon, and that imagined odors can to some extent induce changes in perceived taste intensity comparable to those elicited by perceived odors.
KeywordsTaste-smell interaction Odor imagery Sweetness Saltiness Odorant Tastant
We wish to thank Elisabeth Perreau-Linck, Zia Lakdawalla, and Julie Boyle for help in testing participants. The strawberry flavorant was donated by Bell Flavors & Fragrances Canada. This study was supported in part by grant MOP 57846, awarded to MJG and RJZ by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
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