Discriminating the Stimulus Elements During Human Odor-Taste Learning

A Successful Analytic Stance Does Not Eliminate Learning

Richard J. Stevenson*, Mehmet K. Mahmut

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Odor "sweetness" may arise from experiencing odors and tastes together, resulting in a flavor memory that is later reaccessed by the odor. Forming a flavor memory may be impaired if the taste and odor elements are apparent during exposure, suggesting that configural processing may underpin learning. Using a new procedure, participants made actual flavor discriminations for one odor-taste pair (e.g., Taste A vs. Odor X-Taste A) and mock discriminations for another (e.g., Odor Y-Taste B vs. Odor Y-Taste B). Participants, who were successful at detecting the actual flavor discriminations, demonstrated equal amounts of learning for both odor-taste pairings. These results suggest that although a capacity to discriminate flavor into its elements may be necessary to support learning, whether participants experience a configural or elemental flavor representation may not.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)477-482
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

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