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Smell-based memory training: Evidence of olfactory learning andtransfer to a visual task
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics. Swedish Collegium of Advanced Study, Uppsala.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0856-0569
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Personality, Social and Developmental Psychology.
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In cognitive training interventions, engaging in visual processing tasks rarely stimulate transfer of learning to untrained tasks. Human and animal research suggests that the sense of smell, olfaction, are intimately associated with visual-spatial orientation and memory encoding networks. In this study, we investigated if olfactory enhancement would facilitate visuo-spatial learning. We devised an odor memory intervention to investigate “asymmetric” transfer effects such that odor-based memory training would transfer to a visual-based memory gain, but not vice versa. Participants were randomly assigned to daily memory training for 40 days with either the odor task or a visual control task with a similar difficulty level. Results showed that while visual training did not produce transfer, olfactory training produced transfer to the untrained visual memory task. Furthermore, odor training uniquely improved participants’ performance on odor discrimination and naming tasks to achieve the performance level of wine experts. Our results indicate that the olfactory system is highly responsive to training, and the sense of smell might be a promising vehicle to achieve perceptual and cognitive enhancement.

Keywords [en]
smell, olfactory disorders, odorants, memory, spatial learning
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178486DOI: 10.31234/osf.io/fx3jnOAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-178486DiVA, id: diva2:1389946
Note

This study was funded by The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (M14-0375:1) to Maria Larsson and by the Swedish Research Council (421-2012-806) Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation (MMW 2014:0178) and a Pro Futura Scientia fellowship to Jonas Olofsson. The authors thank Helene Ålund, Marie Nord, Jasenko Dervisic, Timo Mäntylä, Anders Sand, and our colleagues at the Stockholm University Department of Psychology for valuable assistance and consultation.

Available from: 2020-01-30 Created: 2020-01-30 Last updated: 2020-03-13

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Olofsson, Jonas K.Lindström, JoannaSyrjänen, ElmeriLarsson, Maria
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