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PLoS One. 2015 Jun 17;10(6):e0129387. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129387. eCollection 2015.

Olfactory Orientation and Navigation in Humans.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States of America.

Abstract

Although predicted by theory, there is no direct evidence that an animal can define an arbitrary location in space as a coordinate location on an odor grid. Here we show that humans can do so. Using a spatial match-to-sample procedure, humans were led to a random location within a room diffused with two odors. After brief sampling and spatial disorientation, they had to return to this location. Over three conditions, participants had access to different sensory stimuli: olfactory only, visual only, and a final control condition with no olfactory, visual, or auditory stimuli. Humans located the target with higher accuracy in the olfaction-only condition than in the control condition and showed higher accuracy than chance. Thus a mechanism long proposed for the homing pigeon, the ability to define a location on a map constructed from chemical stimuli, may also be a navigational mechanism used by humans.

PMID:
26083337
PMCID:
PMC4470656
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0129387
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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