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Olfactory Cognition: The Case of Olfactory Imagery
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. (Gösta Ekmans laboratorium)
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The capacity to form olfactory images has received less attention than the formation of visual and auditory images. The evidence in favor of such ability is also inconsistent. This thesis explored some of the characteristics of olfactory imagery through three empirical studies. Study I investigated the effects of blocking spontaneous sniffing during olfactory imagery. The results indicated that the prevention of spontaneous sniffing reduced olfactory but not visual imagery capacity. Study II studied the relation between olfactory awareness (as indexed by olfactory dreams, olfactory imagery, and olfactory interest) and olfactory functions (i.e., odor threshold, episodic odor memory, and odor identification). The main findings were that compared to low, high olfactory awareness was associated with better episodic odor memory and identification, but not with higher olfactory sensitivity. Study III investigated the neural correlates of odor evoked autobiographical memories (OEAMs) as (a) a function of cue modality (i.e., odors and their verbal referents), and (b) a function of memory remoteness. The results from Study III showed that OEAMs activated regions generally associated with autobiographical memory. In addition, verbally cued OEAMs were associated with activity linked to olfactory imagery. Odor cues activated the limbic and temporal polar regions more than verbal cues; a result that may explain the phenomenological differences found between the cued memories. Moreover, OEAMs from the first decade of life were associated with higher activity in the secondary olfactory cortex, whereas memories from young adulthood were related to areas linked to semantic memory processing. Taken together these studies favor the notion of a human capacity to form olfactory images. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University , 2013. , 73 p.
Keyword [en]
Olfactory imagery, sniffing, olfactory awareness, odor threshold, episodic odor memory, odor identification, odor evoked autobiographical memory, fMRI
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88413ISBN: 978-91-7447-661-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-88413DiVA: diva2:611798
Public defence
2013-04-26, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-04-04 Created: 2013-03-14 Last updated: 2013-04-04Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Sniff Your Way to Clarity: The Case of Olfactory Imagery
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sniff Your Way to Clarity: The Case of Olfactory Imagery
2008 (English)In: CHEMOSENSORY PERCEPTION, ISSN 1936-5802, Vol. 1, no 4, 242-246 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study addressed the effects of blocking spontaneous sniffing during olfactory imagery. A group of subjects (n=40) who scored high in olfactory focus and imagery ability rated the vividness in olfactory and visual imagery content under conditions of blocked sniffing, blocked vision, and a nonblocked control. The imagery stimuli consisted of 90 common words that could represent either an odor or a visual object. Blocked sniffing was expected to impair olfactory imagery vividness, but since visual imagery entails eye movements, which was not affected by the ""blocked vision"" manipulation, visual imagery ratings were effectively used as a placebo control. Confirming our hypotheses, the results showed that preventing sniffing resulted in a selectively poorer olfactory but not visual vividness, whereas blocked vision showed no effect on either the visual or olfactory vividness ratings. These observations confirm that sensorimotor activity is an important aspect for the quality of evoked olfactory images.

Keyword
Olfaction, Imagery, Sniffing, Vision, Sensorimotor, visual-imagery, mental-imagery, perception, odor, humans, damage
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-57705 (URN)10.1007/s12078-008-9035-z (DOI)000261843300004 ()
Note

authorCount :4

Available from: 2011-05-17 Created: 2011-05-16 Last updated: 2013-04-04Bibliographically approved
2. Olfactory awareness is positively associated to odour memory
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Olfactory awareness is positively associated to odour memory
2011 (English)In: Journal of Cognitive Psychology, ISSN 2044-5911, E-ISSN 2044-592X, Vol. 23, no 2, 220-226 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We investigated the relationship between olfactory awareness and olfactory proficiency as determined by a set of standardised olfactory tasks. Olfactory awareness was indexed by scores in questionnaires focusing on odour interest, imagery ability, and prevalence of olfactory dreams. Nineteen subjects with high and 20 subjects with low odour awareness were presented with a set of standardised olfactory tasks: odour threshold, episodic odour recognition, and odour identification. The results showed that individuals with high odour awareness excelled in odour memory and identified more odours as compared with the low awareness group. Interestingly, odour naming ability exerted no influence on odour memory. Furthermore, high odour awareness was not related to a more sensitive olfactory sensory system as determined by olfactory threshold measurements.

Keyword
dreams, imagery, odour awareness, odour memory
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-68656 (URN)10.1080/20445911.2011.483226 (DOI)000288940500004 ()
Note

authorCount :3

Available from: 2012-01-06 Created: 2012-01-04 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
3. The functional neuroanatomy of odor evoked autobiographical memories cued by odors and words
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The functional neuroanatomy of odor evoked autobiographical memories cued by odors and words
Show others...
2013 (English)In: Neuropsychologia, ISSN 0028-3932, E-ISSN 1873-3514, Vol. 51, no 1, 123-131 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Behavioral evidence indicates that odor evoked autobiographical memories (OEAMs) are older, more emotional, less thought of and induce stronger time traveling characteristics than autobiographical memories (AMs) evoked by other modalities. The main aim of this study was to explore the neural correlates of AMs evoked by odors as a function of retrieval cue. Participants were screened for specific OEAMs and later presented with the odor cue and its verbal referent in an fMRI paradigm. Because the same OEAM was retrieved across both cue formats (odor and word), potential cue dependent brain activations were investigated. The overall results showed that odor and word cued OEAMs activated regions typically associated with recollection of autobiographical information. Although no odors were presented, a verbal cuing of the OEAMs activated areas associated with olfactory perception (e.g., piriform cortex). However, relative to word cuing, an odor cuing of OEAMs resulted in more activity in MTL regions such as the parahippocampus, and areas involved in visual vividness (e.g., occipital gyrus and precuneus). Furthermore, odor cues activated areas related to emotional processing, such as limbic and tempopolar regions significantly more. In contrast, word cues relative to odor cues recruited a more widespread and bilateral prefrontal activity. Hippocampus activity did not vary as function of the remoteness of the memory, but recollection of OEAMs from the 1st vs the 2nd decade of life showed specific activation in the right OFC, whereas the 2nd reflected a higher activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus.

Keyword
episodic memory, fmri, imagery, memory retrieval, multiple trace theory, cross-modal reactivation
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-84182 (URN)10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.10.023 (DOI)000314491300014 ()
Available from: 2012-12-18 Created: 2012-12-18 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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