Olfactory categorization: A developmental study.

UMR, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation (CSGA) 6265, CNRS, INRA, Université de Bourgogne, F-21000 Dijon, France.
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.12). 07/2012; 113(3):337-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.05.007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study examined the ability of children to classify fruit and flower odors. We asked four groups of children (4-11years of age) and a group of adults to identify, categorize, and evaluate the edibility, liking, and typicality of 12 fruit and flower odors. Results showed an increase in interindividual agreement with age for the taxonomic (fruit/flower) and function-based (edible/nonedible) categories but not for the hedonic component. So, it seems that this hedonic component is not the explicit basis for this increase in interindividual agreement when categorizing an odor as a fruit/flower odor or as being edible or nonedible. An age-related trend was also observed on the typicality scores: The youngest group of children did not show a typicality gradient, but all of the other groups did. Blackcurrant and lemon were rated as the most typical fruit odors, whereas raspberry and peach were rated as the least typical. For flower odorants, results were not as clear, yet it seems that for all groups lavender was considered as quite typical.

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    ABSTRACT: There is evidence that the olfactory system can be modulated by repeated exposure to odors, a procedure called olfactory training. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of olfactory training in patients with postinfectious and post-traumatic olfactory dysfunction. Prospective study of 119 patients with postinfectious and post-traumatic olfactory dysfunction. Two groups of patients (postinfectious and post-traumatic) performed the olfactory training (n = 49 and n = 23, respectively) over a period of 16 weeks and were compared with two control groups of the same etiology (n = 32 and n = 15). Patients with sinunasal, neurologic, or idiopathic disease were excluded. Training was performed twice daily with the use of four odors (phenyl ethyl alcohol [rose], eucalyptol [eucalyptus], citronellal [lemon], and eugenol [cloves]). Olfactory testing was performed by means of the Sniffin' Sticks test battery (threshold, discrimination, identification) at the time of diagnosis, and 8 and 16 weeks later. All patients evaluated their olfactory function by means of a visual analogue scale (0-100). Compared to controls, training patients in both groups presented significantly higher scores of olfactory function as measured by the Sniffin' Sticks test. This increase was measured in 67.8% of postinfectious and 33.2% of post-traumatic patients. Subjective ratings were in accordance with the olfactory test results. Subset analysis showed that olfactory function mainly increased olfactory identification followed by discrimination in both training groups. The present study suggests that a 16-week short-term exposure to specific odors may increase olfactory sensitivity in patients with postinfectious and post-traumatic olfactory dysfunction. 3b. Laryngoscope, 2013.
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