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Sensors 2010, 10(9), 8185-8197; doi:10.3390/s100908185

Odours Influence Visually Induced Emotion: Behavior and Neuroimaging

1,2,3,4,5,*  and 2,3
1 School of Psychology, Newcastle University, Callaghan 2308 NSW, Newcastle, Australia 2 Clinic of Neurology, Medical University Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria 3 Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Functional Brain Topography, Vienna, Austria 4 Department of Psychology, Biological Psychology, University of Vienna, Liebiggasse 5, 1010 Vienna, Austria 5 Neuroconsult e.U., Applied Neuroscience Institute, Güntergasse 3/3, 1090 Vienna, Austria
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 July 2010 / Revised: 26 August 2010 / Accepted: 31 August 2010 / Published: 1 September 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Direct and Indirect Sensing of Odor and VOCs and Their Control)
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The present study was conducted to investigate the influence of olfaction on subjective valence intensity ratings of visual presentations. Pictures of five different categories (baby, flower, erotic, fear and disgust) were presented each being associated with five different odour conditions [no odour, low and high concentrations of phenylethyl alcohol (positive odour) and low and high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide (negative odour)]. Study participants had to rate the emotional content of each picture with respect to valence and intensity while brain activities were recorded with a whole-cortex magnetoencephalograph (MEG). A significant interaction between odour condition and picture category with respect to rating performance was found. In particular, positive valence intensity ratings related to flowers were increased in positive and negative odour conditions. Negative valence intensity ratings related to disgusting pictures were also increased in positive and negative odour conditions. The only decrease was found in the baby category in the high concentration negative odour condition. No behavioural effects were found for the categories erotic and fear. Around 300 ms after stimulus onset odour-related brain activity effects were found for all picture categories. On the other hand, around 700 ms after stimulus onset odour-related brain activity effects occurred only in the flower, fear and disgust picture categories. We interpret that early information processing demonstrates more pronounced olfactory and visually induced emotion interaction than later information processing. Since the early time window more likely reflects subconscious information processing we interpret that interaction between olfaction and visually induced emotion mostly occurs below the level of consciousness. Later, rather conscious information processing, seems to be differently influenced by simultaneous olfaction depending on the kind of emotion elicited through the sense of vision.
Keywords: emotion; olfaction; interaction; behavior; brain imaging emotion; olfaction; interaction; behavior; brain imaging
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Walla, P.; Deecke, L. Odours Influence Visually Induced Emotion: Behavior and Neuroimaging. Sensors 2010, 10, 8185-8197.

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