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Olfactory Perception in Relation to the Physicochemical Odor Space

Institute for Materials Science, Technische Universität Dresden, 01062 Dresden, Germany
Department of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Technische Universität, 01062 Dresden, Germany
Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena, 07743 Jena, Germany
Smell and Taste Clinic, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Technische Universität, 01062 Dresden, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Rachel S. Herz
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(5), 563;
Received: 29 March 2021 / Revised: 23 April 2021 / Accepted: 26 April 2021 / Published: 28 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Human Olfactory Perception)
A growing body of research aims at solving what is often referred to as the stimulus-percept problem in olfactory perception. Although computational efforts have made it possible to predict perceptual impressions from the physicochemical space of odors, studies with large psychophysical datasets from non-experts remain scarce. Following previous approaches, we developed a physicochemical odor space using 4094 molecular descriptors of 1389 odor molecules. For 20 of these odors, we examined associations with perceived pleasantness, intensity, odor quality and detection threshold, obtained from a dataset of 2000 naïve participants. Our results show significant differences in perceptual ratings, and we were able to replicate previous findings on the association between perceptual ratings and the first dimensions of the physicochemical odor space. However, the present analyses also revealed striking interindividual variations in perceived pleasantness and intensity. Additionally, interactions between pleasantness, intensity, and olfactory and trigeminal qualitative dimensions were found. To conclude, our results support previous findings on the relation between structure and perception on the group level in our sample of non-expert raters. In the challenging task to relate olfactory stimulus and percept, the physicochemical odor space can serve as a reliable and helpful tool to structure the high-dimensional space of olfactory stimuli. Nevertheless, human olfactory perception in the individual is not an analytic process of molecule detection alone, but is part of a holistic integration of multisensory inputs, context and experience. View Full-Text
Keywords: physicochemical odor space; olfactory perception; molecule structure physicochemical odor space; olfactory perception; molecule structure
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bierling, A.L.; Croy, I.; Hummel, T.; Cuniberti, G.; Croy, A. Olfactory Perception in Relation to the Physicochemical Odor Space. Brain Sci. 2021, 11, 563.

AMA Style

Bierling AL, Croy I, Hummel T, Cuniberti G, Croy A. Olfactory Perception in Relation to the Physicochemical Odor Space. Brain Sciences. 2021; 11(5):563.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bierling, Antonie L., Ilona Croy, Thomas Hummel, Gianaurelio Cuniberti, and Alexander Croy. 2021. "Olfactory Perception in Relation to the Physicochemical Odor Space" Brain Sciences 11, no. 5: 563.

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