Richard J Stevenson

Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Publications (120)333.84 Total impact

  • Richard J Stevenson, Mehmet Mahmut
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    ABSTRACT: When participants perceive flavor they do not recognise the role of smell. We examined two possible accounts of why: (1) a common attentional channel activated by taste; and (2) prior learning between taste and smell. Participants were asked to sniff food-related odors with a fluid in their mouth and profile each odor after expectorating. This process was later repeated for each odor, with some odors experienced with water on both occasions, and others with water on one occasion and sucrose (weak or strong) on the other. We investigated how reliable these odor profiles were and whether they were influenced by prior odor-taste learning (indexed by odor sweetness). For non-sweet smells, the presence of a tastant significantly improved profile reliability relative to water in the mouth. For sweet smells, tastant had no effect, which we suggest represents a cancelling out of the beneficial effects of the common attentional channel by the detrimental effects of prior learning. Thus, both mechanisms may contribute to masking the modal identity of smell thereby contributing to flavor binding.
    Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 12/2014; · 2.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent findings indicate that parents, in the presence of disgust elicitors, exhibit exaggerated behavioral avoidance and direct expressions of disgust toward younger children. Here we examine whether other communication channels—vocalizations and gestures—are also used to entrain disgust. We also explore whether parents transmit hand hygiene practices in a similar manner. Children’s disgust responses factored into two discrete components—expressive and felt disgust. Variance in child expressive disgust, when tested alone, was explained by a combination of parental facial and vocal disgust, moderated by child age. Children’s felt disgust, when tested alone, was weakly related to parental self-reports of disgust. Hand hygiene transmission (HHT) was observed and directed toward younger children (2–3 years). Parents who demonstrated HHT also directed more disgust-related behaviors towards their child. The age-moderated effects here suggest parents selectively direct facial and vocal expression of disgust toward young children and this has detectable consequences on their disgust behavior.
    The Psychological record 12/2014; 64(4). · 0.96 Impact Factor
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    Frontiers in Psychology 11/2014; 5:1372. · 2.80 Impact Factor
  • Mairead Brannigan, Richard J Stevenson, Heather Francis
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    ABSTRACT: Less sensitive interoception for hunger and fullness has been observed in people who consume a diet rich in saturated fat and added sugar. In this study we examined whether healthy young people who routinely consume such diets, also demonstrate less sensitive thirst interoception. Participants, varying primarily in diet, were made thirsty by consuming salted chips and later provided with ad libitum access to water, with thirst ratings obtained throughout. A self-report measure of interoceptive awareness was also included plus measures to determine eating habits, memory and executive function. A diet reported as richer in saturated fat and added sugar (an HFS diet) was associated both with less sensitive thirst interoception and with greater attention to somatic signs. Evidence of poorer hippocampal-sensitive learning and memory was also detected. Poorer sensitivity to interoceptive cues appears to be a reliable correlate of an HFS diet and its causal origins are discussed. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Physiology & Behavior 11/2014; · 3.03 Impact Factor
  • Megan J. Oaten, Richard J. Stevenson, Trevor I. Case
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    ABSTRACT: Experiencing the emotion of disgust leads to delayed up-regulation of immune-related functions, increased core-body temperature and reduced appetite. These changes parallel those of the acute phase response, which occurs when a pathogen is detected by the immune system. Here we examined whether a further predicted aspect of the acute phase response is evident following disgust induction, namely increased pain sensitivity. Participants attended a two-session experiment. On one session they experienced an emotion induction (being randomly assigned to either disgust, negative or positive groups) and on the other they received a neutral control induction. Before and after each induction, and at 15 and 30 min post-induction, participants engaged in a cold-pressor task, rating pain intensity at 10 s intervals for 90 s on each occasion. Relative to neutral control and pre-test, average pain intensity decreased then increased across time following the disgust induction, with the reverse pattern in the negative and positive emotion inductions. These findings are the first to suggest that disgust may lead to an increase in pain sensitivity over a time course paralleling changes observed for core-body temperature and immune-related function, although the mechanisms underpinning these effects remain to be identified.
    Physiology & Behavior 10/2014; · 3.03 Impact Factor
  • Richard J Stevenson, Mehmet Mahmut
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    ABSTRACT: Visual experience is information rich, but only a small proportion is available for later access. We tested for this distinction in olfaction. In two experiments (E1&2), participants undertook trials rating an odor's features (e.g., how banana-like?), the during-smelling-profile, followed by an after-smelling-profile, upon the odor's removal. On some trials during and after-smelling-profiles were identical and on others they were different. Each trial with a particular odor was repeated. For half the odors both trials were identical (congruent) and for the remainder, one was different and the other identical (incongruent). Crucially, the after-smelling-profile was always the same for each odor, allowing reliability to be measured. E1&2 revealed that incongruent profiles were the least reliable. Attempting to access particular odor features in an odor's absence is harder if those features were not attended during smelling. This suggests more information is available during smelling, than can be accessed after the odors removal.
    Consciousness and Cognition 10/2014; 30C:210-219. · 2.31 Impact Factor
  • Richard Stevenson, Megan Oaten, Trevor Case, Betty Repacholi
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    ABSTRACT: Children may be prepared to associate adult disgust reactions with adult disgust elicitors. To test this, three-year olds (and adults) were presented with two images and an emotive vocalization. The images and vocalizations included stimuli adults found disgusting, fear-provoking, and sad. On one set of trials, the main dependent variable (DV) was time spent looking at each image and on a second set of repeat trials the DV was knowledge of image-sound matches. Fear and disgust vocalizations were both more effective at orienting a child's attention to adult fear and disgust images, than sad vocalizations. Parental disgust sensitivity was associated with this effect, moderated by explicit matching knowledge. Matching knowledge was poor in children and good in adults. These data suggest that in children, fear and disgust vocalizations may both promote attention to stimuli that adults find disgusting and/or fear-provoking, suggesting that "preparedness" may not be wholly emotion-specific.
    The Journal of General Psychology 10/2014; 141(4):326-347. · 1.04 Impact Factor
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    Richard J. Stevenson, John Prescott
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    ABSTRACT: Cognition influences what, when and how much we eat, which in turn affects the brain and hence cognition. In this overview, focusing mainly on the human literature, we start by examining cognitive influences on food and eating. This includes food preferences and choices (e.g., effects of learning, advertising, and cultural taboos), food habits relating to when and how much to eat (e.g., the concept of meals, dieting, and hunger strikes), the perception of food (e.g., the influence of appearance, food labels, and conceptions of naturalness), and how food perception is influenced by expertise. We also review how these various influences are disrupted by abnormalities of cognition (e.g., Gourmand syndrome, amnesia, and anorexia nervosa). The second part of the overview focuses on how diet affects cognition. We start by looking at the acute effects of diet, notably the impact of breakfast on cognitive performance in children. This is followed by a review of the effects of extended dietary exposures—years and lifetimes of particular diets. Here we look at the impacts of protein-energy malnourishment and Western-style diets, and their different, but adverse affects on cognition, and the beneficial effects on cognition of breast-feeding and certain dietary practices. We then outline how diet and cooking may have allowed the evolution of the large energy-hungry human brain. This overview serves to illustrate the multiple interactions that exist between cognition and diet, their importance to health and disease, and their impact on thinking about the role of conscious processes in decision making.For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.Conflict of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.
    Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Cognitive science 07/2014; 5:463-475. · 0.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated the effectiveness of the 1-2-3 Magic parenting program, a brief cognitive-behavioral program, when delivered to large groups of caregivers. The effectiveness of two versions of the programs in reducing child problem behaviors and dysfunctional parenting, and the effect on emotion-related parenting style, were examined. Ninety-two participants with 2-12-year-old children were randomly assigned to one of three groups: DVD (n = 31); Emotion-coaching (EC) (n = 31); or Waitlist-control (n = 30). Both intervention groups reported significantly decreased child problem behaviors, dysfunctional parenting, parental depression and parental stress at post-intervention as compared to the control group. Additionally, the DVD group reported decreased parental anxiety, and the EC group reported a decrease in emotion-dismissing parenting style. Emotion-coaching parenting style remained unchanged for all groups at post-intervention. The results were maintained after three months. After two years, all intervention effects were maintained for the DVD group. For the EC group, effects were maintained on the main outcome variables. The results suggest that both 1-2-3 Magic programs are effective at reducing child problem behavior and dysfunctional parenting when delivered to large groups of caregivers, and that both programs are suitable for a broad delivery approach. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Behaviour Research and Therapy 05/2014; 58C:52-64. · 3.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the cognitive profile of structural occipital lobe epilepsy (OLE) and whether verbal memory impairment is selectively associated with left temporal lobe hypometabolism on [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET). Nine patients with OLE, ages 8–29 years, completed presurgical neuropsychological assessment. Composite measures were calculated for intelligence quotient (IQ), speed, attention, verbal memory, nonverbal memory, and executive functioning. In addition, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) was used as a specific measure of frontal lobe functioning. Presurgical FDG-PET was analyzed with statistical parametric mapping in 8 patients relative to 16 healthy volunteers. Mild impairments were evident for IQ, speed, attention, and executive functioning. Four patients demonstrated moderate or severe verbal memory impairment. Temporal lobe hypometabolism was found in seven of eight patients. Poorer verbal memory was associated with left temporal lobe hypometabolism (p = 0.002), which was stronger (p = 0.03 and p = 0.005, respectively) than the association of left temporal lobe hypometabolism with executive functioning or with performance on the WCST. OLE is associated with widespread cognitive comorbidity, suggesting cortical dysfunction beyond the occipital lobe. Verbal memory impairment is selectively associated with left temporal lobe hypometabolism in OLE, supporting a link between neuropsychological dysfunction and remote hypometabolism in focal epilepsy.A PowerPoint slide summarizing this article is available for download in the Supporting Information section here.
    Epilepsia 04/2014; · 4.58 Impact Factor
  • Richard J. Stevenson
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    ABSTRACT: This paper examines the applicability of the object concept to the chemical senses, by evaluating them against a set of criteria for object-hood. Taste and chemesthesis do not generate objects. Their parts, perceptible from birth, never combine. Orthonasal olfaction (sniffing) presents a strong case for generating objects. Odorants have many parts yet they are perceived as wholes, this process is based on learning, and there is figure-ground segregation. While flavors are multimodal representations bound together by learning, there is no functional need for flavor objects in the mouth. Rather, food identification occurs prior to ingestion using the eye and nose, with the latter retrieving multimodal flavor objects via sniffing (e.g., sweet smelling caramel). While there are differences in object perception between vision, audition, and orthonasal olfaction, the commonalities suggest that the brain has adopted the same basic solution when faced with extracting meaning from complex stimulus arrays.
    Cognitive Science A Multidisciplinary Journal 02/2014; · 2.59 Impact Factor
  • Lucy Braude, Richard J Stevenson
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    ABSTRACT: Watching television (TV) while eating tends to increase food intake, but why this occurs is not well understood. Here, we examined TV's effects on sensory specific satiety (SSS), introception (i.e., hunger/fullness), mood and other variables, in females who all ate one snack meal with TV and another without TV. To manipulate the development of SSS, participants were assigned either to a group receiving a single type of snack food or one receiving four types. Everyone ate more with TV. More food items were eaten in the group offered multiple snack types. In the group eating a single snack type with TV, hedonic ratings indicated that SSS did not develop and this was associated with greater food intake. Irrespective of group, more food had to be consumed to generate the same shift in hunger/fullness when eating with TV, relative to no TV. TV exerted less effect on food intake both if it improved mood and if participants were unfamiliar with the TV show, and a greater effect if participants were frequent TV viewers. We suggest that TV can affect several processes that normally assist the voluntary regulation of food intake.
    Appetite 01/2014; · 2.52 Impact Factor
  • Richard J Stevenson, Laurie A Miller, Ky McGrillen
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    ABSTRACT: Lesions of the insula can affect olfaction and gustation. Here, we examined the effect of insula lesions on taste and taste-like experiences generated via smelling (i.e., odor-induced tastes) in patients with focal insula lesions and intact olfaction. From a set of 16 patients with lesions to the insula, we found 7 (6 with right-sided lesions) who performed normally on various olfactory measures. These were compared to 42 normal control subjects on tests of gustatory and odor-induced taste perception as well as control measures. The patients were impaired relative to controls on most gustatory measures. They were also impaired on tests of odor-induced taste perception, primarily for stimuli presented on the left side. Examining cases individually revealed evidence of a dissociation: two patients exhibited no impairment in odor-induced taste perception in spite of gustatory deficits. Together, these findings suggest that the insula mediates taste recognition, hedonics, and intensity judgments as well as odor-induced taste perception. However, the areas responsible for aspects of taste perception and those responsible for odor-induced taste do not fully overlap each other and they are also independent of olfactory areas.
    Neurocase 12/2013; · 1.38 Impact Factor
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    Travis M. Bettison, Mehmet K. Mahmut, Richard J. Stevenson
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated the relationship between psychopathy and tests presumed sensitive to orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) function in a non-criminal student sample. While converging lines of evidence indicate OFC-associated dysfunction in criminal psychopaths, few studies have investigated whether non-criminal psychopaths manifest similar deficits. Psychopathic traits were indexed using the Self-Report Psychopathy scale and the “Sniffin' Sticks” and Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) were employed as neuropsychological measures of OFC function. The results showed higher degrees of psychopathy were significantly associated with poorer olfactory discriminative ability and poorer IGT performance. The discussion focuses on what these findings contribute to the understanding of the psychopathy and OFC relationship, suggesting the degree of OFC-associated dysfunction may be one differentiating factor between criminal and non-criminal psychopaths.
    Chemosensory Perception 12/2013; 6(4). · 1.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Amongst the techniques to assess olfactory functions, discrimination and cued identification are those most prone to the influence of odour short-term memory (STM). Discrimination task requires participants to detect the odd one out of three presented odourants. As re-smelling is not permitted, an un-intended STM load may generate, even though the task purports to assess discrimination ability. Analogously, cued identification task requires participants to smell an odour, and then select a label from three or four alternatives. As the interval between smelling and reading each label increases this too imposes a STM load, even though the task aims to measure identification ability. New method: We tested whether modifying task design to reduce STM load improve performance on these tests. We examined five age-groups of participants (Adolescents, Young adults, Middle-aged, Elderly, very Elderly), some of whom should be more prone to the effects of STM load than others, on standard and modified tests of discrimination and identification. We found that using a technique to reduce STM load improved performance, especially for the very Elderly and Adolescent groups. Comparison with existing methods: sources of error are now prevented. Findings indicate that STM load can adversely affect performance in groups vulnerable from memory impairment (i.e., very Elderly) and in those who may still be acquiring memory-based representations of familiar odours (i.e., Adolescents). It may be that adults in general would be even more sensitive to the effects of olfactory STM load reduction, if the odour-related task was more difficult.
    Journal of neuroscience methods 11/2013; · 2.30 Impact Factor
  • Richard J. Stevenson
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    ABSTRACT: The main functions of olfaction relate to finding food, avoiding predators and disease, and social communication. Its role in detecting food has resulted in a unique dual mode sensory system. Environmental odorants are ‘smelled’ via the external nostrils, while volatile chemicals in food—detected by the same receptors—arrive via the nasopharynx, contributing to flavor. This arrangement allows the brain to link the consequences of eating with a food's odor, and then later to use this information in the search for food. Recognizing an odorant—a food, mate, or predator—requires the detection of complex chemical blends against a noisy chemical background. The brain solves this problem in two ways. First, by rapid adaptation to background odorants so that new odorants stand out. Second, by pattern matching the neural representation of an odorant to prior olfactory experiences. This account is consistent with olfactory sensory physiology, anatomy, and psychology. Odor perception, and its products, may be subject to further processing—olfactory cognition. While olfactory cognition has features in common with visual or auditory cognition, several aspects are unique, and even those that are common may be instantiated in different ways. These differences can be productively used to evaluate the generality of models of cognition and consciousness. Finally, the olfactory system can breakdown, and this may be predictive of the onset of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's, as well as having prognostic value in other disorders such as schizophrenia. WIREs Cogn Sci 2013, 4:273–284. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1224 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
    Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Cognitive science 05/2013; 4(3). · 0.79 Impact Factor
  • Richard J Stevenson, Laurie A Miller, Ky McGrillen
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    ABSTRACT: Controversy surrounds whether crossed and/or uncrossed fibres carry taste information from tongue to cortex and whether there is hemispheric specialization for gustatory processing. The current study examined these issues in 14 patients with unilateral insula lesions, seven with right-sided and seven with left-sided damage, and in 42 healthy controls. Two tasks were carried out, with tastants applied unilaterally to the tongue tip: (1) taste discrimination; and (2) stimulus sampling followed by judgments of quality, intensity, hedonics and name-recognition, for sweet, salty, bitter and sour tastants. Controls were better at discriminating tastants applied to their right tongue tip relative to their left, and better at taste quality judgments when tastants were applied to their left tongue tip relative to their right. Insula lesions to the left or right side resulted in bilateral impairments in discrimination, quality judgments and naming, when compared to controls. However, the Left insula group was poorer on tasks involving salt, and for ipsilateral hedonic judgments, relative to controls and the Right insula group. These findings are consistent with gustatory information ascending from tongue to cortex both ipsilaterally and contralaterally, and provide preliminary support for hemispheric gustatory specialization.
    Neuropsychologia 04/2013; · 3.45 Impact Factor
  • Richard J Stevenson, Mehmet K Mahmut
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    ABSTRACT: Olfactory rivalry can occur when a binary mixture is sniffed repeatedly, with one percept dominating then the other. Experiment 1 demonstrated olfactory rivalry using several new techniques. Experiments 2 and 3 examined whether participants can notice rivalry. Participants received trials composed of odor pairs: either a mixture followed by the same mixture; or a pure odor followed by the same pure odor. On some trials participants judged whether the two stimuli were the same or different, to see if they could detect rivalry. On other trials participants judged the quality of each odor, allowing us to determine whether rivalry occurred. We found evidence for rivalry when we compared reports of odor quality for one stimulus and then the other, but no evidence that participants could detect this change. These findings are consistent with the idea that people can experience olfactory illusions, but may not know they have occurred.
    Consciousness and Cognition 03/2013; 22(2):504-516. · 2.31 Impact Factor
  • Richard J Stevenson, Laurie A Miller
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    ABSTRACT: Odour-induced tastes occur when smelling certain odours (e.g., sweet-smelling vanilla) and may represent a universal form of synaesthesia. If odour-induced tastes are perceptually akin to tastes generated by stimulating taste receptors on the tongue, as perceptual data imply, then these two forms of gustatory experience may also share common processing resources in the brain. In this study, we examine this hypothesis for two secondary gustatory processing areas-the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and amygdala. We compared nine patients with anteromedial temporal lobe (AMTL) resections that included the amygdala, and three patients with OFC damage, to a healthy comparison group (n = 42), on tests of olfactory, gustatory, and odour-induced taste perception. While AMTL patients had a range of generally small taste impairments, they were unimpaired on tests of odour-induced taste perception. Two of the three OFC cases had impairments in taste hedonics and discrimination. The case with the most profound gustatory deficit was also mildly impaired on tests of odour-induced taste perception. The OFC findings are consistent with overlaps in circuits supporting taste and odour-induced taste perception, especially those responsible for more perceptual aspects of processing.
    Cognitive Neuropsychology 03/2013; · 1.52 Impact Factor
  • Richard J Stevenson, Mehmet K Mahmut
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    ABSTRACT: It has been suggested that olfactory perception relies on a memory-based pattern-matching system. In this experiment, we tested a prediction derived from this approach, namely that representations of unfamiliar odors are less stable than those of familiar odors. Participants provided qualitative descriptions of odors either immediately after smelling them or after a 1- or 3-min delay. Later, participants were given a surprise test in which they were asked to match their earlier descriptions to those same odors. Delay exerted no effect on familiar odors. However, for unfamiliar odors, while their matching performance was equivalent to that for familiar odors when descriptions were made immediately, delay significantly impaired performance. The better capacity to name familiar odors only assisted matching performance at the longest (3-min) delay. These findings suggest that unfamiliar odors have less stable representations than do familiar odors. Pattern-matching theory suggests that this occurs because unfamiliar odors weakly activate many nodes in memory, resulting in less-stable percepts.
    Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 01/2013; 20(4). · 2.99 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
333.84 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1999–2014
    • Macquarie University
      • Department of Psychology
      Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • 2011–2013
    • University of Padova
      • Department of General Psychology
      Padua, Veneto, Italy
  • 2003
    • University of Oklahoma
      Norman, Oklahoma, United States
  • 2002
    • New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry
      Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • 1995–2002
    • University of Sydney
      • School of Psychology
      Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • 1997
    • University of Otago
      • Centre for Sensory Science Research
      Taieri, Otago Region, New Zealand