Department of Psychology

Department of Psychology

The Department of Psychology



Over the years the olfactory cognition laboratory has been a steady contributor to student research and master's theses in the department. Theses and projects presented at conventions include the following: Hoot, E. L., "Human Olfactory Memory of Individuals and Gender," 1987; "Sniffing out Memories: Olfactory Cues Enhance Long-Term Memory for Pictures," 1991; Dykstra, A., "Multiple Olfactory Cues Enhance Long-Term Memory for Pictures, " 1992; Adeleja, E., "Episodic Memory with Olfactory Cues," 1993; Ames, S., "Odor-Evoked Memory Events Following Exposure to Post-Event Suggestibility," 1994; Taing, P. L. "Effects of Odor and Verbal Stimuli on Olfactory Perception, 1995.
Afinal project conducted in association with the laboratory but not actually concerning olfaction directly was that by Melinda Warren and Monica Alvarez in 1996. Their project examined the memory loss in Alzheimer's patients and equally aged controls for different types of memory (recall). Although no olfactory variable was examined there is a connection to the ongoing research in that olfactory deficit is one of the few premorbidity markers for Alzheimer's disease.
At present one study is being conducted in the laboratory which seeks to extend olfactory enhancement of perception in other modalities to the auditory sense. Continuing prior research in other modalities we are attempting to determine if presenting an olfactory stimulus contiguously with an auditory (musical) will enhance later recall for the auditory stimulus, alone or in connection with the olfactory stimulus.
Currently this research is in the tedious stage of selecting musical stimuli to be used as the auditory stimuli. If previous attempts at scaling visual stimuli are an indication, this stage could take two quarters, more or less, since the variety of stimuli termed "musical" covers a very broad range. Once the auditory stimulus selection procedure is completed the pairing of auditory and olfactory stimuli will take place in the same general manner as with previous experiments.
There are several logical expansions of the present research that will be carried out as time and resources permit. Clearly only a minute range of possible stimuli in the visual, verbal, and auditory range have been examined for olfactory enhancement. Broadening the range of stimuli examined in each of these modalities would clear increase the power of the effect and it is anticipated that we will carry out a number of these projects in the future.


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