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Improved smell pleasantness after odor-taste associative learning in humans

Barkat, S.
Poncelet, J.
Rouby, C.
Bensafi, M.
Published in Neuroscience Letters. 2008, vol. 434, no. 1, p. 108-12
Abstract Whereas some aspects of olfactory hedonism in humans are present from birth, others form during development and throughout adulthood. Although it is generally agreed that such hedonic representations emerge by associative learning, it is not yet clear which learning parameters are prominent. The present study investigated the influence of number of trials on odor preference acquisition in human adults. Forty-eight subjects randomly assigned to three groups were tested in three sessions. In the first session, subjects ranked eight food odors from most pleasant to most unpleasant. The second session consisted in an associative learning, the two most neutral odors were randomly associated with a drink: one odor with water (CS-) and the other odor with a pleasant sweet solution (CS+). In the third session subjects ranked the eight food odors again. In group A, CS+ was paired three times with the US, and in group B only once; in group C, CS+ was paired only once with the US but with a total duration identical to that in group A. Results showed that CS+ was ranked as significantly more pleasant after learning in group A (p<.05), but not in groups B and C (p>.05). In conclusion, the study showed that a neutral smell can acquire positive emotional features after being paired with a pleasant taste, and that this learning depends on the number of associations between smell and taste.
Keywords AdultAffect/physiologyAssociation Learning/physiologyBrain/physiologyEmotions/physiologyFemaleHumansMaleMiddle AgedNeuropsychological TestsOdorsPhysical StimulationSmell/physiologyTaste/physiology
PMID: 18280654
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BARKAT, S. et al. Improved smell pleasantness after odor-taste associative learning in humans. In: Neuroscience Letters, 2008, vol. 434, n° 1, p. 108-12. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:2111

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Deposited on : 2009-06-19

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