Semantic Context Facilitates Odor Identification in Children and Adults


Jennifer K. Ducz: Class of 2011

Megan L. Bingham: Class of 2008

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The current study investigated the influence of semantic cues on odor identification in preschool-aged children and adults. We tested the hypothesis that odor identification in a multiple-choice task is facilitated when choices belong to different semantic categories compared to when they belong to the same category. Participants were shown three color pictures, one of which represented the target odor and the other two depicted items that were either from the same or different semantic categories as the target odor. After smelling the target odor, participants were asked to identify the odor they had just smelled by pointing to one of the three pictures. Results indicated that while adults outperformed children, performance in both age groups was better when the picture of the target odor was semantically unrelated to the foil pictures. These data support the idea that well-known deficits in odor identification may result from weak associations between the olfactory percept and semantic memory rather than from poor olfactory perception per se.


Original version is available from the publisher at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/dev.21124/abstract

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