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Int J Psychophysiol. 2010 Nov;78(2):179-89. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2010.07.007. Epub 2010 Aug 3.

Methods for building an inexpensive computer-controlled olfactometer for temporally-precise experiments.

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Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA, United States.


Many human olfactory experiments call for fast and stable stimulus-rise times as well as exact and stable stimulus-onset times. Due to these temporal demands, an olfactometer is often needed. However, an olfactometer is a piece of equipment that either comes with a high price tag or requires a high degree of technical expertise to build and/or to run. Here, we detail the construction of an olfactometer that is constructed almost exclusively with "off-the-shelf" parts, requires little technical knowledge to build, has relatively low price tags, and is controlled by E-Prime, a turnkey-ready and easily-programmable software commonly used in psychological experiments. The olfactometer can present either solid or liquid odor sources, and it exhibits a fast stimulus-rise time and a fast and stable stimulus-onset time. We provide a detailed description of the olfactometer construction, a list of its individual parts and prices, as well as potential modifications to the design. In addition, we present odor onset and concentration curves as measured with a photo-ionization detector, together with corresponding GC/MS analyses of signal-intensity drop (5.9%) over a longer period of use. Finally, we present data from behavioral and psychophysiological recordings demonstrating that the olfactometer is suitable for use during event-related EEG experiments.

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