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 journalArticle

183 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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