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Psychol Sci. 2004 Mar;15(3):143-8.

The mind's nose: Effects of odor and visual imagery on odor detection.

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Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


We examined odor imagery by looking for its effects on detection of weak odors. Seventy-two healthy subjects performed a forced-choice odor detection task in one of three conditions: after being told to imagine an odor (odor imagery), after being told to imagine an object (visual imagery), or without having received imagery instructions (no-imagery control). For the two imagery conditions, the presented and imagined stimuli were either the same (matched) or different (mismatched). There was a significant difference between detection in the matched and mismatched conditions for odor imagery, but not for visual imagery. We conclude that our paradigm does measure odor imagery and that the effect of imagery on detection is both content- and modality-specific. Further, the difference between conditions was due to lower detection with mismatched odor imagery than without imagery, indicating that interference underlies the effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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