George Andrew Michael, PhD, Université Lumière-Lyon 2, and Laurence Jacquot, PhD, Jean-Louis Millot, PhD, and Gérard Brand, PhD, Université de Franche-Comté. Ambient odors influence the amplitude and time course of visual distraction.. Behavioral Neuroscience, 2005, 119 (3), 708-715.Obtain the full text of the article, as available from the APA Public Affairs Office in .pdf format.
Behavioral performance was examined in a task of attentional capture by luminance under conditions of ambient odors (phenyl ethyl alcohol [PEA], olfactory stimulus, and allyl isothiocyanate [AIC], mixed olfactory/trigeminal stimulus). The AIC increased the amplitude and duration of capture, whereas the presence of PEA led capture to disappear. Furthermore, the PEA caused a general slowing in the speed of information processing. The amplitude and time course of capture were correlated to the irritating components of these odorants, whereas a control experiment showed that the general slowing caused by the PEA was correlated to a drop-off of the subjects’ arousal level. These results suggest that ambient odors may exert differential influence of visual-attentional processes and that this influence may depend on the odor’s properties.
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Anthony H. Risser | neuroscience | neuropsychology | brain