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Physicochemical features partially explain olfactory crossmodal correspondences.

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Ward, Ryan J 
Wuerger, Sophie M 
Marshall, Alan 


During the olfactory perception process, our olfactory receptors are thought to recognize specific chemical features. These features may contribute towards explaining our crossmodal perception. The physicochemical features of odors can be extracted using an array of gas sensors, also known as an electronic nose. The present study investigates the role that the physicochemical features of olfactory stimuli play in explaining the nature and origin of olfactory crossmodal correspondences, which is a consistently overlooked aspect of prior work. Here, we answer the question of whether the physicochemical features of odors contribute towards explaining olfactory crossmodal correspondences and by how much. We found a similarity of 49% between the perceptual and the physicochemical spaces of our odors. All of our explored crossmodal correspondences namely, the angularity of shapes, smoothness of textures, perceived pleasantness, pitch, and colors have significant predictors for various physicochemical features, including aspects of intensity and odor quality. While it is generally recognized that olfactory perception is strongly shaped by context, experience, and learning, our findings show that a link, albeit small (6-23%), exists between olfactory crossmodal correspondences and their underlying physicochemical features.



Smell, Olfactory Perception, Electronic Nose, Emotions, Learning

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC