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Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1988 Jul-Aug;71(4):241-50.

Cerebral chemosensory evoked potentials elicited by chemical stimulation of the human olfactory and respiratory nasal mucosa.

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Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University Erlangen-N├╝rnberg, F.R.G.


A stimulation method was employed by which chemosensory evoked potentials were recorded without tactile somatosensory contamination. The purpose of the study was to determine whether potential components evoked by stimulation of the chemoreceptors of the trigeminal nerve can be distinguished from those of the olfactory nerve. The stimulants (vanillin, phenylethyl alcohol, limonene, menthol, anethol, benzaldehyde, carbon dioxide and a mixture of vanillin and carbon dioxide) were presented in a randomized order to 13 volunteers. Chemosensory evoked potentials to substances which anosmics are unable to perceive (vanillin, phenylethyl alcohol) were termed olfactory evoked potentials; potentials to CO2, which effected no olfactory sensations were termed chemo-somatosensory potentials. Analysis of variance revealed that the different substances resulted in statistically significant changes in the amplitudes and latencies of the evoked potentials, and also in the subjective estimates of intensity. An increased excitation of the somatosensory system resulted in reduced latencies and enhanced amplitudes of the evoked potentials. Responses to the mixture of carbon dioxide and vanillin appeared significantly earlier (50-150 msec) than responses to either substance alone.

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