Identification of air phase retronasal and orthonasal odorant pairs.Chem Senses. 2005 Oct; 30(8):693-706.CS
Identifications (IDs) of paired retronasal and orthonasal odorants were studied, with stimuli limited to air phase. Odorants were liquid extracts of plant materials, sold as food flavorings, matched by each subject both for retronasal-only and orthonasal-only air phase intensities and then learned to 100% correct veridical name retronasal-only and orthonasal-only IDs. Subjects were tested for ID of (a) retronasal-only and orthonasal-only odorants, (b) homogeneously paired odorant (the same odorant in retronasal and orthonasal locations), and (c) heterogeneously paired odorants (different odorants in retronasal and orthonasal locations). Paired odorants were presented in two different sequences: retronasal location odorant smelled first or orthonasal location odorant smelled first. IDs were reported after odorants were removed. Results were as follows: (a) no significant differences between correct ID of odorants when in retronasal-only versus orthonasal-only locations, although percent correct IDs were lower for half the retronasal-only location odorants; (b) correct ID of a homogeneously paired odorant equaled or exceeded its unpaired ID, with two successive, identical IDs reported on the majority of its trials; (c) with heterogeneous pairs, for all odorants when in the orthonasal location of a pair, correct ID occurred less often than when these odorants were presented orthonasal-only, but for odorants in the retronasal location, correct ID equaled or exceeded retronasal-only correct ID; and (d) perceived order of presentation of heterogeneous pairs was the reverse of the physically presented sequence for both retronasal-first and orthonasal-first conditions. The heterogeneous odorant ID outcome supports the concept that processing of retronasal and orthonasal odorants differ, and the perceived reversal of the presented sequence is in agreement with the importance of recency in odorant memory.