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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2008 Oct;34(5):1183-97. doi: 10.1037/0096-1523.34.5.1183.

Impairments in the perception of odor-induced tastes and their relationship to impairments in taste perception.

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Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


Certain odors have tastelike qualities when sniffed. To the extent that these qualities are akin to real taste experiences, impairment in perception of odor-induced tastes should be accompanied by taste impairment, and vice versa. Twelve patients were selected with possible odor-induced taste impairments or general taste impairments via a screening test, along with a further 6 patients with a probable taste impairment (insular lesion). These 18 patients, along with 19 normal controls, completed a battery of odor, taste, visual control, and neuropsychological tests to assess impairments in odor-induced taste perception and general taste perception. Four patients had an odor-induced taste impairment and were also impaired on taste perception. A further analysis, using regression on the whole sample, indicated that taste impairments were associated with odor-induced taste abnormalities independent of other predictors. This pattern also held for the patient group alone. The insular patients also exhibited both taste and odor-induced taste impairments. This study is the first to demonstrate a relationship between impaired taste perception and the perception of odor-induced tastes and suggests that both may rely on certain common neural substrates.

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