The impact of mediodorsal thalamic lesions on olfactory attention and flavor perception

Wendy W. P. Tham, Richard J. Stevenson*, Laurie A. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Olfactory attention may be important in generating odor-induced tastes - an arguably universal form of synesthesia - by ensuring that the taste concurrent is captured by the nose and olfaction, not by the mouth and gustation (oral-capture). To examine the role of olfactory attention in generating odor-induced tastes and oral capture we tested a small sample (n= 4) of participants with likely impairments in olfactory attention - individuals with mediodorsal thalamic nucleus (MDNT) lesions. These participants were compared to two sets of controls on tests of olfactory attention, oral capture, odor and flavor perception, and control tasks. MDNT participants demonstrated impaired olfactory attention and enhanced oral capture. Greater oral capture was associated with greater olfactory attentional impairment. These findings imply that olfactory attention may be important in attributing odor-induced tastes to the olfactory modality. However, unlike for visual binding and for the neurodevelopmental synesthesias, where attention may be necessary to demonstrate both phenomena, olfactory attention deficits did not impair flavor binding or the experience of odor-induced tastes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)71-79
    Number of pages9
    JournalBrain and Cognition
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


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