Evidence that phenomenal olfactory content exceeds what can later be accessed

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    Visual experience is information rich, but only a small proportion is available for later access. We tested for this distinction in olfaction. In two experiments (E1&2), participants undertook trials rating an odor's features (e.g., how banana-like?), the during-smelling-profile, followed by an after-smelling-profile, upon the odor's removal. On some trials during and after-smelling-profiles were identical and on others they were different. Each trial with a particular odor was repeated. For half the odors both trials were identical (congruent) and for the remainder, one was different and the other identical (incongruent). Crucially, the after-smelling-profile was always the same for each odor, allowing reliability to be measured. E1&2 revealed that incongruent profiles were the least reliable. Attempting to access particular odor features in an odor's absence is harder if those features were not attended during smelling. This suggests more information is available during smelling, than can be accessed after the odors removal.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)210-219
    Number of pages10
    JournalConsciousness and cognition
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


    • Access consciousness
    • Olfaction
    • Phenomenal consciousness


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