Chemosensory Perception

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 9–15 | Cite as

Ortho- and Retronasal Presentation of Olfactory Stimuli Modulates Odor Percepts

  • Johannes Frasnelli
  • Mary Ungermann
  • Thomas Hummel


Retronasal olfaction gives us information important not only for the well-being by detecting dangerous substances but also provides a basis for the pleasures of eating and drinking. However, odors presented via the retronasal route appear to evoke different sensations compared to orthonasal presentation. In this study, we differentially stimulated anterior and posterior parts of the subjects’ nasal cavity with odors. Subjects were able to tell retronasal and orthonasal smelling apart; the ability of doing so seemed to be linked to but could not completely be explained by the degree to which the odorant stimulated the trigeminal nerve. Furthermore, we examined whether food and nonfood odors were perceived as differently pleasant, depending on the presentation site. In fact, some but not all nonfood odors were described as less pleasant when they were delivered retronasally. In conclusion, the present results clearly suggest that there are differences between sensations produced by presenting odors through the retronasal or the orthonasal route, which bears significance for both basic and applied research.


Retronasal Flavor Localization Lateralization 



This research was supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG HU441/2). We would like to thank Dr. Stefan Heilmann for his help in collecting some of the data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Frasnelli
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mary Ungermann
    • 1
  • Thomas Hummel
    • 1
  1. 1.Smell and Taste Clinic, Department of OtorhinolaryngologyUniversity of Dresden Medical SchoolDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Montreal Neurological InstituteMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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