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  • 1.
    Olofsson, Jonas K.
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics. Swedish Collegium of Advanced Study, Uppsala.
    Ekström, Ingrid
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Sjölund, Sara
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Lindström, Joanna
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Personality, Social and Developmental Psychology.
    Syrjänen, Elmeri
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Stigsdotter-Neely, Anna
    Nyberg, Lars
    Larsson, Maria
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Smell-based memory training: Evidence of olfactory learning andtransfer to a visual taskManuscript (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.

  • 2.
    Olofsson, Jonas K.
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Syrjänen, Elmeri
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Ekström, Ingrid
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Larsson, Maria
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Wiens, Stefan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Fast Versus Slow Word Integration of Visual and Olfactory Objects: EEG Biomarkers of Decision Speed Variability2018In: Behavioral Neuroscience, ISSN 0735-7044, E-ISSN 1939-0084, Vol. 132, no 6, p. 587-594Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In psychological experiments, behavioral speed varies across trials, and this variation is often associated with corresponding fluctuations in cortical activity. Little is known about such cortical variations in semantic priming tasks where target words are matched with preceding sensory object cues. Here, two visually presented target words (pear and lilac) were repeatedly cued by corresponding odors or pictures, and the participants were to indicate matching or nonmatching combinations. Data were split in behaviorally fast versus slow trials. We hypothesized that slow trials would be associated with higher prestimulus alpha activity and reduced ERP amplitudes, and that response-time differences between odor-cued and picture-cued trials would be especially large in slow behavioral trials. Results confirmed that slow trials showed increased alpha-band activity prior to word target onset, as well as amplitude decreases in the sensory P1 and semantic N400 components. However, no interactions between cue-modality and processing speed were observed. Instead, odor-cue integration responses were uniquely delayed on incongruent trials, a novel behavioral effect that was not observed in EEG measures. The results show that semantic integration speed is reflected in cortical activity before and during stimulus processing. Behavioral interactions with cue modality did not correspond to observed cortical activity changes, perhaps because olfactory circuits are not readily observed in scalp-recorded EEG. We conclude that combining behavioral speed variability and cortical EEG measures is useful in understanding the fluctuating nature of cognitive processing sequences.

  • 3.
    Syrjänen, Elmeri
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Attention to the periphery attenuates the EPN and LPP2011Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [en]

    Current research shows that emotions have an important role in guiding attention and cognitions especially when the emotional stimuli are affective. Load theory proposes that when the perceptual load on attention is sufficiently high, irrelevant emotional stimuli is no longer attended to and thus will not produce a distracting effect. In this study 18 participants performed two discrimination tasks where their attention was manipulated spatially. To investigate the effect of spatial attention on ERP components, emotional pictures in 14 different semantic categories were shown while EEG was recorded. The results indicate that a successful perceptual load was achieved, reflected in the behavioral data that show there was a clear difference in performance between tasks. Further the results indicate that a strong effect was achieved in the mean amplitudes of both EPN and LPP corresponding to the semantic categories of pictures. Critically directing the attention to the periphery while emotionally salient pictures were presented attenuated the mean amplitude of both EPN and LPP.

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  • 4.
    Syrjänen, Elmeri
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    The effects of valenced odors on facial perception2020Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    We use our senses to navigate in the world. An important property of olfaction, the sense of smell, is to enable us to approach beneficial things, and to avoid what might be toxic or otherwise harmful in our environment. Other peoples’ behaviors are also paramount for our survival. Thus, we use our vision to decode their internal states from their facial expressions. For many modalities, multiple senses are integrated to enhance sensory percepts. In this thesis, I investigated how valenced odors affect the perception of facial expressions. Specifically, using a multi-method approach, I studied the integration of unpleasant and pleasant odor contexts on odor-congruent and incongruent facial expressions, disgusted, and happy faces.

    The effects I am interested in are those that valenced odors have on face perception, attention to faces, and the cortical processing of faces. To answer these questions, I used questionnaires, ratings, EEG, and behavioral measures such as reaction times. Across studies, ratings of face valence are affected in the direction of the odor valence (e.g., faces are rated more negatively in the context of an unpleasant odor). Also, overall, the results in my studies indicate that faces are perceived as more arousing in valenced odor contexts; however, these effects occur regardless of facial expression.

    In study 1, I found that valenced odors and facial expressions are integrated at an earlier time-frame than previously thought. Specifically, I found that the N170 event-related potential component (ERP) to disgusted facial expressions was lower in amplitude in the unpleasant odor condition than in the pleasant odor condition. This effect was not present for happy faces in the N170 component. An unpleasant odor might thus facilitate the processing of threat-related information.

    In study 2, I found evidence that odors, in general, did not affect the recognition speed of facial expressions that changed from neutral to disgusted or happy over 3 seconds. Also, I found robust evidence against congruency effects in facial expression recognition reaction times (RTs). The results indicated that faces overall were recognized faster in the unpleasant odor condition. Further, these results were not qualified by individual differences in body odor disgust. Thus, unpleasant odors might facilitate the recognition of facial expressions regardless of trait body odor disgust.

    In study 3, I studied whether valenced odors directed spatial attention toward odor-congruent facial expressions in a “dot-probe” task. I found decisive evidence that odors do not affect attention towards disgusted and happy facial expressions, casting doubt on the dot-probe experiment. However, I found that probes were detected faster as a function of time-on-task in the unpleasant odor condition. I hypothesized that this effect might be due to maintained vigilance in the presence of an unpleasant odor and task fluency effects.

    In summary, the results indicate that valenced odors affect facial perception. Generally, faces are perceived as more valenced and arousing in odor contexts. Further, an unpleasant odor may decrease RTs; however, this effect seems to be irrespective of the target type. Also, odor face integration may happen earlier than thought; yet, evidence in the literature is mixed, and more research is needed. The methods I have used may increase transparency and robustness of published results, and help accelerate knowledge development in this field of research.

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  • 5.
    Syrjänen, Elmeri
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Fischer, Håkan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Biological psychology.
    Olofsson, Jonas K.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Background odors affect behavior in a dot-probe task with emotionally expressive faces2019In: Physiology and Behavior, ISSN 0031-9384, E-ISSN 1873-507X, Vol. 210, article id 112540Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Odors affect perception of social cues in visual environments. Although often underestimated, people use their sense of smell to guide approach or avoidance behavior in social contexts. However, underlying psychological mechanisms are not well known. Prior work suggested olfactory effects are due to increased attention or arousal, or depend on the congruency between olfactory and visual cues. Our aim was to assess how odors influence attentional processes using a dot-probe task with odor-congruent and odor-incongruent facial expressions (happy, disgusted and neutral expressions paired with pleasant odor, unpleasant odor and no-odor). In a pre-registered analysis plan, we hypothesized either faster reaction times attributed to arousal from odors in general, or to faces that were emotionally congruent with the odors. We also hypothesized time-on-task effects specific to the odor compared to the control condition. Using Bayesian linear models, we found strong evidence that the faces were rated as more arousing and emotional in odor contexts. However, the dot-probe task did in fact not provide an effective cue to selective visual attention, and odors did not modulate overall attention to the faces. However, we found a time-on-task effect such that in the unpleasant odor condition, response times decreased over time, whereas in the no-odor and pleasant condition there was a slight increase in response times. We conclude that time-on-task effects is an interesting venue for odor-visual interaction research, and such effects might explain inconsistent findings in the prior research literature.

  • 6.
    Syrjänen, Elmeri
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Liuzza, Marco Tullio
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Personality, Social and Developmental Psychology. Magna Græcia University, Italy.
    Fischer, Håkan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Biological psychology.
    Olofsson, Jonas K.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics. Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Sweden.
    Do Valenced Odors and Trait Body Odor Disgust Affect Evaluation of Emotion in Dynamic Faces?2017In: Perception, ISSN 0301-0066, E-ISSN 1468-4233, Vol. 46, no 12, p. 1412-1426Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Disgust is a core emotion evolved to detect and avoid the ingestion of poisonous food as well as the contact with pathogens and other harmful agents. Previous research has shown that multisensory presentation of olfactory and visual information may strengthen the processing of disgust-relevant information. However, it is not known whether these findings extend to dynamic facial stimuli that changes from neutral to emotionally expressive, or if individual differences in trait body odor disgust may influence the processing of disgust-related information. In this preregistered study, we tested whether a classification of dynamic facial expressions as happy or disgusted, and an emotional evaluation of these facial expressions, would be affected by individual differences in body odor disgust sensitivity, and by exposure to a sweat-like, negatively valenced odor (valeric acid), as compared with a soap-like, positively valenced odor (lilac essence) or a no-odor control. Using Bayesian hypothesis testing, we found evidence that odors do not affect recognition of emotion in dynamic faces even when body odor disgust sensitivity was used as moderator. However, an exploratory analysis suggested that an unpleasant odor context may cause faster RTs for faces, independent of their emotional expression. Our results further our understanding of the scope and limits of odor effects on facial perception affect and suggest further studies should focus on reproducibility, specifying experimental circumstances where odor effects on facial expressions may be present versus absent.

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  • 7.
    Syrjänen, Elmeri
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Wiens, Stefan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Gender moderates valence effects on the late positive potential to emotional distracters2013In: Neuroscience Letters, ISSN 0304-3940, E-ISSN 1872-7972, Vol. 551, p. 89-93Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Attention is captured more strongly by emotional pictures than by neutral pictures. This allocation of attention to emotional pictures is commonly indexed by the late positive potential (LPP). This event-related potential (ERP) is larger for negative and positive pictures than for neutral pictures. However, findings are mixed in regards to valence effects, that is, whether the LPP is larger for negative pictures than for positive pictures (negativity bias) or vice versa (positivity bias). Additionally, previous ERP studies have not explicitly considered a moderating effect of gender. In the present study, positive, negative, and neutral pictures were shown at fixation but were always task-irrelevant. Results showed that LPP amplitudes for the positive and negative distracters were moderated by gender. Men showed a positivity bias on the LPP (i.e., larger amplitudes for positive pictures than for negative pictures). Women did not show a clear valence bias on the LPP, but they showed a negativity bias on picture ratings. These gender differences for the LPP did not habituate, as they were obtained even for pictures that were repeated 20 times. Because previous studies with other measures suggest a positivity bias for men and a negativity bias for women, the present findings extend these studies suggesting that attention allocation for emotional pictures of different valence is similarly moderated by gender.

  • 8.
    Syrjänen, Elmeri
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Wiens, Stefan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Fischer, Håkan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Biological psychology.
    Zakrzewska, Marta
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Wartel, Andreas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Larsson, Maria
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Olofsson, Jonas K.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Perception and psychophysics.
    Background Odors Modulate N170 ERP Component and Perception of Emotional Facial Stimuli2018In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 9, article id 1000Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Successful social interaction relies on the accurate decoding of other peoples' emotional signals, and their contextual integration. However, little is known about how contextual odors may lead to modulation of cortical processing in response to facial expressions. We investigated how unpleasant and pleasant contextual background odors affected emotion perception and cortical event-related potential (ERP) responses to pictures of faces expressing happy, neutral and disgusted facial expressions. Faces were, regardless of expression, rated more positively in the pleasant odor condition and more negatively in the unpleasant odor condition. Faces were overall rated as more emotionally arousing in the presence of an odor, irrespective of its valence. Contextual odors also interacted with facial expressions, such that happy faces were rated as especially non-arousing in the unpleasant odor condition. The early, face-sensitive N170 ERP component also displayed an interaction effect. Here, disgusted faces were affected by the odor context such that the N170 revealed a relatively larger negativity in the context of a pleasant odor compared with an unpleasant odor. There were no odor effects on the responses to faces in other measured ERP components (P1, VPP, P2, and LPP). These results suggest that odors bias socioemotional perception early stages of the visual processing stream. However, effects may vary across emotional expressions and measurements.

  • 9.
    Wiens, Stefan
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Syrjänen, Elmeri
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Directed attention reduces processing of emotional distracters irrespective of valence and arousal level2013In: Biological Psychology, ISSN 0301-0511, E-ISSN 1873-6246, Vol. 94, no 1, p. 44-54Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Emotional stimuli tend to capture attention, and this so-called motivated attention is commonly measured using the early posterior negativity (EPN) and the late positive potential (LPP). We hypothesized that voluntary, directed attention reduces motivated attention more strongly for highly than moderately arousing pleasant or unpleasant pictures. Participants were instructed to direct their attention to either a picture at fixation or the letters flanking the picture. Pictures varied substantially in arousal and valence. When the pictures were attended to, EPN and LPP increased linearly with arousal. When the letters were attended to, these linear effects decreased in the EPN for pleasant and unpleasant pictures and in the LPP for pleasant pictures. Thus, directed attention decreases processing of emotional distracters more strongly for highly than moderately arousing pleasant and unpleasant pictures. These results are consistent with the view that directed attention decreases emotion effects on sensory gain.

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