Odors enhance the salience of matching images during the attentional blink

Amanda K. Robinson, Jason B. Mattingley, Judith Reinhard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


As any food critic knows, the visual presentation of a dish can enhance its aroma. Is the reverse also true? Here we investigated whether odors can enhance the salience of familiar visual objects at the limits of perceptual discrimination, using rapid serial visual presentations (RSVP) to induce an attentional blink (AB). We had participants view RSVP streams containing photographs of odor-related objects (lemon, orange, rose, and mint) amongst non-odor related distractors. In each trial, participants inhaled a single odor, which either matched the odor-related target within the stream (congruent trials), did not match the odor-related target (incongruent trials), or was irrelevant with respect to the target. Congruent odors significantly attenuated the AB for odor-related visual targets, compared with incongruent and irrelevant odors. The findings suggest that familiar odors can render matching visual objects more salient, thereby enhancing their competitive strength at the limits of temporal attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number77
JournalFrontiers in Integrative Neuroscience
Issue numberNOV
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2013. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • cross-modal perception
  • multisensory integration
  • olfaction
  • visual attention
  • attentional blink


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