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Toxicol Sci. 2005 Sep;87(1):223-31. Epub 2005 Jun 23.

Temporal integration of nasal irritation from ammonia at threshold and supra-threshold levels.

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  • 1Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104-3308, USA.


Two experiments examined integration of perceived irritation over short-term (approximately 100-4000 ms) delivery of ammonia into the nasal cavity of human subjects. Experiment 1 examined trade-offs between time and concentration at threshold level by means of nasal lateralization, a common measure of irritation threshold. Within experimental sessions, the duration of a fixed-concentration stimulus varied to determine the shortest, detectable pulse. Subjects could lateralize increasingly weaker concentrations with longer stimulus presentations. Experiment 2 examined an analogous trade-off for supra-threshold irritation. Subjects rated irritation from presentations of ammonia that varied both in concentration and in duration. Rated intensity for a given concentration increased with stimulus duration. Hence integration occurred at both threshold and supra-threshold levels. However, more than a twofold increase in duration was required to compensate for a twofold decrease in concentration to maintain threshold lateralization or a fixed level of perceived intensity. These results suggest that an imperfect mass-integrator model may be able to describe short-term integration of nasal irritation from ammonia at both the threshold and supra-threshold levels.

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