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The role of odour quality in the perception of binary and higher-order mixtures
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2012 (English)In: Perception, ISSN 0301-0066, E-ISSN 1468-4233, Vol. 41, no 11, 1373-1391 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Twenty participants scaled similarities in odour quality, odour intensity and pleasantness/unpleasantness of 10 binary and 5 higher-order mixtures of 5 odorous degradation products from the polymer Polyamide 6.6. The perceived odour qualities of all binary mixtures were represented well as intermediary vectors relative to their component-odour vectors in a three-component principal components analysis. The odour qualities of the floral/fruity 2-pentylcyclopentan-1-one and the sharp/cheese-like pentanoic acid contributed profoundly to their binary mixtures, as did the minty cyclopentanone, but in fewer cases. Conversely, the ether-like 2-methyl pyridine and nutty butanamide did not contribute much. Odour similarity was shown to be caused by odour quality, rather than odour intensity. Three out of five degradation products formed distinct clusters of odours and were therefore interpreted to be profound contributors to the odour quality of the binary mixtures. The higher-order mixtures created new odour qualities which were completely different and untraceable to their various parts as perceived alone. These results demonstrate that it is critical to research the perception of natural mixtures in order to be able to understand the human olfactory code.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 41, no 11, 1373-1391 p.
Keyword [en]
odour quality, odour mixture, odour perception, aged material emission, multidimensional scaling
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88951DOI: 10.1068/p7267ISI: 000315249300007OAI: diva2:616568
Formas, 242-2007-763


Available from: 2013-04-17 Created: 2013-04-08 Last updated: 2013-04-17Bibliographically approved

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Lindqvist, AnnaBerglund, Birgitta
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