The role of taste and oral somatosensation in olfactory localization

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    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Although there is only one set of olfactory receptors, odours are experienced as smells when sniffing things (e.g., sniffing a wine's bouquet) and as flavours when the olfactory stimulus is present in the mouth (e.g., drinking wine). How this location binding-external versus internal environment-is achieved is poorly understood. Experiment 1 employed a new procedure to study localization, which was then used to explore whether localization is primarily dependent upon simultaneous oral somatosensation. Experiment 2, using solutions of varying viscosity, and Experiment 3, using oral movement of varying vigour, revealed that sniffed odours are not localized to the mouth by somatosensation alone. Instead, Experiment 4 demonstrated that a tastant needs to be present and that increasing tastant concentration generates increasing oral localization. Experiment 5 found that this reliance upon gustation reflects the previously observed "confusion" that people show for taste and smell stimuli in the mouth. We suggest that this "confusion" reflects the gustatory system's superior ability to suppress olfactory attention, thus assisting flavour binding.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)224-240
    Number of pages17
    JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011

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