Friday Lunch Seminar: Yoshiaki Tsushima: “Olfactory stimulation modulates visual perception without training” (On-line: Sign-up required)

Friday Lunch Seminar (English)

October 22, 2021
12:15 〜 13:00
Apply for participation from here by noon, October 21.
You will be notified of participation details by e-mail on October 21.

Talk Title: Olfactory stimulation modulates visual perception without training

Yoshiaki Tsushima
Senior Researcher
Brain Function Analysis and Imaging Laboratory
Center for Information and Neural Networks (CiNet)
National Institutes of Information and Communications Technology (NICT)

Host: N. Eiji Nawa

Considerable research shows that olfactory stimulation can affect emotions and other high-level cognitive functions. However, a little-known fact is that olfaction can modulate the low-level perception of other sensory modalities.

To test the possibility that olfaction modulates low-level perception even without training, we conducted a series of psychophysical and neuroimaging experiments. Behavioral results revealed that participants reported the speed of moving dots to be slower when they were paired with a lemon smell but faster when a vanilla smell was presented instead. Moreover, fMRI results showed that areas in the visual cortex [V1 and human middle temporal area (hMT)] displayed distinct activity depending on the type of olfactory stimulation that was presented.

These findings provide the first direct evidence that olfaction can modulate low-level visual perception without training, indicating that this olfactory-visual effect is not an acquired behavior but rather an innate one. This newly discovered crossmodal effect between olfaction and vision opens a unique opportunity to reconsider some fundamental roles of olfactory function.