Changes in Odor Sweetness Resulting from Implicit Learning of a Simultaneous Odor-Sweetness Association: An Example of Learned Synesthesia

Richard J. Stevenson, Robert A. Boakes, John Prescott

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    187 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In two experiments the smelled sweetness of odors was increased by using them as flavorants of sucrose solution. Experiment 1 used blind experimenters to compare a target odor mixed with sucrose with a control odor mixed with water during masked training trials. The increased sweetness of the target odor was unaffected by whether or not subjects revealed some explicit knowledge of the contingencies in a post-conditioning recognition test. Experiment 2 found that such a conditioned increase in odor sweetness occurred whether training solutions were sipped from a cup or sucked through a straw. Using a frequency test designed to provide a sensitive assay of contingency awareness, there was still no indication that this affected conditioning. It was concluded that such modification of the taste-properties of odors results from implicit simultaneous associative learning and provides an example of learned synesthesia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-132
    Number of pages20
    JournalLearning and Motivation
    Volume29
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 1998

    Keywords

    • Awareness
    • Implicit learning
    • Odor
    • Simultaneous conditioning
    • Synesthesia
    • Taste

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