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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[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The main problem with sensory processing is the difficulty in relating sensory input to physiological responses and perception. This is especially problematic at higher levels of processing, where complex cues elicit highly specific responses. In olfaction, this relationship is particularly obfuscated by the difficulty of characterizing stimulus statistics and perception. The core questions in olfaction are hence the so-called stimulus problem, which refers to the understanding of the stimulus, and the structure-activity and structure-odor relationships, which refer to the molecular basis of smell. It is widely accepted that the recognition of odorants by receptors is governed by the detection of physico-chemical properties and that the physical space is highly complex. Not surprisingly, ideas differ about how odor stimuli should be classified and about the very nature of information that the brain extracts from odors. Even though there are many measures for smell, there is none that accurately describes all aspects of it. Here, we summarize recent developments in the understanding of olfaction. We argue that an approach to olfactory function where information processing is emphasized could contribute to a high degree to our understanding of smell as a perceptual phenomenon emerging from neural computations. Further, we argue that combined analysis of the stimulus, biology, physiology, and behavior and perception can provide new insights into olfactory function. We hope that the reader can use this review as a competent guide and overview of research activities in olfactory physiology, psychophysics, computation, and psychology. We propose avenues for research, particularly in the systematic characterization of receptive fields and of perception.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] 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.
No preview · Article · Dec 2013 · The Laryngoscope
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The analysis of categorization of everyday sounds is a crucial aspect of the perception of our surrounding world. However, it constitutes a poorly explored domain in developmental studies. The aim of our study was to understand the nature and the logic of the construction of auditory cognitive categories for natural sounds during development. We have developed an original approach based on a free sorting task (FST). Indeed, categorization is fundamental for structuring the world and cognitive skills related to, without having any need of the use of language. Our project explored the ability of children to structure their acoustic world, and to investigate how such structuration matures during normal development. We hypothesized that age affects the listening strategy and the category decision, as well as the number and the content of individual categories.
Eighty-two French children (6-9 years), 20 teenagers (12-13 years), and 24 young adults participated in the study. Perception and categorization of everyday sounds was assessed based on a FST composed of 18 different sounds belonging to three a priori categories: non-linguistic human vocalizations, environmental sounds, and musical instruments.
Children listened to the sounds more times than older participants, built significantly more classes than adults, and used a different strategy of classification. We can thus conclude that there is an age effect on how the participants accomplished the task. Analysis of the auditory categorization performed by 6-year-old children showed that this age constitutes a pivotal stage, in agreement with the progressive change from a non-logical reasoning based mainly on perceptive representations to the logical reasoning used by older children. In conclusion, our results suggest that the processing of auditory object categorization develops through different stages, while the intrinsic basis of the classification of sounds is already present in childhood.