The effect of early experience on odor perception in humans: Psychological and physiological correlates - HAL-SHS - Sciences de l'Homme et de la Société Access content directly
Journal Articles Behavioural Brain Research Year : 2010

The effect of early experience on odor perception in humans: Psychological and physiological correlates

Abstract

The olfactory function in humans is characterized by wide variability between individuals. One of the prominent factors that contribute to this plasticity is early exposure. The present study examined how brain activity is modulated by such olfactory experience. To this end, two groups of people living in France but originating from different cultures ("European-French" (EF, 18 subjects) vs. "Algerian-French" (AF, 19 subjects)) were tested, and their perceptual and physiological responses to the smells of mint (presumed to be experienced earlier in life by "Algerian-French" subjects) and of rose (control odorant) were compared. Neurophysiological responses were obtained in the form of chemosensory event-related potentials (CSERP). The results confirmed that the AF group was exposed to Mint tea earlier than the EF group. On the perceptual level, when asked to associate the smell of mint with objects or events retrieved from memory, the discourse of AF subjects included more "experience-oriented" associations than that of EF subjects. This was associated with longer P2 latency in CSERPs in response to the smell of mint in the AF group. These findings highlight the plasticity of behavioral and neural olfactory processes as a result of differential lifetime exposure.

Dates and versions

hal-02343726 , version 2 (12-06-2011)
hal-02343726 , version 1 (03-11-2019)

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Johan Poncelet, Fanny Rinck, Fanny Bourgeat, Benoist Schaal, Catherine Rouby, et al.. The effect of early experience on odor perception in humans: Psychological and physiological correlates. Behavioural Brain Research, 2010, 2 (2), pp.458-465. ⟨10.1016/j.bbr.2009.12.011⟩. ⟨hal-02343726v2⟩
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