Perceptual learning with odors

Implications for psychological accounts of odor quality perception

Richard J. Stevenson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)


After two odors have been experienced in a mixture, the pair are subsequently rated as sharing more qualities and smelling more alike than equally exposed controls. These effects may result from the retrieval of a common mixture memory when either component is sniffed alone. If correct, odor pairs experienced together in a mixture should also be less discriminable than those experienced an equal number of times but in different mixtures. This was tested here by exposing participants to two odor mixtures (either AX, BY or AY, BX) and then testing their ability to discriminate between the components. As predicted, odors previously experienced together as a mixture were less discriminable than controls. These and related findings noted above suggest that learning and memory play an important role in odor quality perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-712
Number of pages5
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001

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