Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 233, Issue 5, pp 1353–1364 | Cite as

Visually induced motion sickness can be alleviated by pleasant odors

  • Behrang KeshavarzEmail author
  • Daniela Stelzmann
  • Aurore Paillard
  • Heiko Hecht
Research Article


Visually induced motion sickness (VIMS) is a common side effect in virtual environments and simulators. Several countermeasures against VIMS exist, but a reliable method to prevent or ease VIMS is unfortunately still missing. In the present study, we tested whether olfactory cues can alleviate VIMS. Sixty-two participants were exposed to a 15-min-long video showing a first-person-view bicycle ride that had successfully induced VIMS in previous studies. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups; the first group was exposed to a pleasant odor (rose) while watching the video, the second group was exposed to an unpleasant odor (leather), and the third group was not exposed to any odor. VIMS was measured using a verbal rating scale (0–20) and the Simulator Sickness Questionnaire. Results showed that only half of the participants who were exposed to the odor did notice it (n = 21), whereas the other half failed to detect the odor. However, among those participants who did notice the odor, the rose scent significantly reduced the severity of VIMS compared to the group that did not notice the odor. A moderate positive correlation between odor sensitivity and VIMS showed that participants with higher odor sensitivity also reported stronger VIMS. Our results demonstrate that olfaction can modulate VIMS and that a pleasant odor can potentially reduce VIMS. The relationship between olfactory perception, olfactory sensibility, and VIMS is discussed.


Visually induced motion sickness Motion sickness Simulator sickness Olfaction Odor Smell Countermeasures 



We thank Pia Hauck and Wanja Hemmerich for helping collecting the data and Agnes Muench for technical support. We also thank Firmenich, Switzerland, for kindly providing the odors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Behrang Keshavarz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniela Stelzmann
    • 2
  • Aurore Paillard
    • 3
  • Heiko Hecht
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Research, iDAPTToronto Rehabilitation InstituteTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Psychological InstituteJohannes Gutenberg-University MainzMainzGermany
  3. 3.Newham University Centre, School of PsychologyOpen UniversityLondonUK

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