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Smelling the Space Around Us: Odor Pleasantness Shifts Visuospatial Attention in Humans

Rinaldi, L; Maggioni, E; Olivero, N; Maravita, A; Girelli, L; (2018) Smelling the Space Around Us: Odor Pleasantness Shifts Visuospatial Attention in Humans. Emotion , 18 (7) pp. 971-979. 10.1037/emo0000335. Green open access

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Abstract

The prompt recognition of pleasant and unpleasant odors is a crucial regulatory and adaptive need of humans. Reactive answers to unpleasant odors ensure survival in many threatening situations. Notably, although humans typically react to certain odors by modulating their distance from the olfactory source, the effect of odor pleasantness over the orienting of visuospatial attention is still unknown. To address this issue, we first trained participants to associate visual shapes with pleasant and unpleasant odors, and then we assessed the impact of this association on a visuospatial task. Results showed that the use of trained shapes as flankers modulates performance in a line bisection task. Specifically, it was found that the estimated midpoint was shifted away from the visual shape associated with the unpleasant odor, whereas it was moved toward the shape associated with the pleasant odor. This finding demonstrates that odor pleasantness selectively shifts human attention in the surrounding space.

Type: Article
Title: Smelling the Space Around Us: Odor Pleasantness Shifts Visuospatial Attention in Humans
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/emo0000335
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000335
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Olfactory system, Odor pleasantness, Visuospatial attention, Line bisection; Approach-avoidance behaviors.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10121731
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