Age-related changes in discrimination of unfamiliar odors

Richard J. Stevenson*, Nina Sundqvist, Mehmet Mahmut

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


If odor perception involves mnemonic processes, differences in olfactory experience should affect discriminative ability. This was examined here by comparing discriminative performance in children and adults. Using an oddity test of discrimination, in Experiment 1 we tested 6-year-olds (Gl), 11-year-olds (G6), and adults (A) on their ability to discriminate unfamiliar odors that varied either in quality (Q) or in quality and intensity (QI). G1 participants were poorer at discriminating the QI set, relative to G6 and A. In Experiment 2, we used an analogous visual procedure and confirmed that this age-related difference was olfactory specific. In Experiment 3, we repeated Experiment 1 but used an articulatory suppression task. G1 participants were poorer than G6 and A participants for both the Q and the QI sets. The implications of these findings for experiential accounts of odor perception and olfactory working memory are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-192
Number of pages8
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007

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