Experience dependent changes in odour-viscosity perception

Richard J. Stevenson*, Mehmet K. Mahmut

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)


    One consequence of experiencing flavour - the combination of taste, smell and somatosensation that occurs during ingestion - is that it can result in perceptual changes for the odour component, when this is later smelled alone. One such change is the acquisition of taste-like properties, but whether odours can also acquire somatosensory-like qualities is largely unknown. Participants here were exposed to one odour sampled in a viscous solution, another sampled in a sweet/viscous solution, and a further odour sampled in water. The odour sampled in the sweet/viscous solution was, when later sniffed alone, judged to smell thicker and sweeter, than the other two odours. Similarly, when the sweet/viscous paired odour was added to a viscous solution, the combination was judged as more viscous, than the other two odours - and sweeter when added to a sweet solution. This experiment suggests that odours can acquire tactile-like somatosensory qualities and this may best occur when a taste is present during learning. Recent work indicates that tastes may be superior to somatosensory stimuli alone in promoting flavour binding, a seeming precondition for this type of learning.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)60-66
    Number of pages7
    JournalActa Psychologica
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


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