Simultaneous odour-face presentation strengthens hedonic evaluations and event-related potential responses influenced by unpleasant odour

Stephanie Cook, Katerina Kokmotou, Vicente Soto, Hazel Wright, Nicholas Fallon, Anna Thomas, Timo Giesbrecht, Matt Field, Andrej Stancak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Odours alter evaluations of concurrently presented visual stimuli, such as faces. Stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) is known to affect evaluative priming in various sensory modalities. However, effects of SOA on odour priming of visual stimuli are not known. The present study aimed to analyse whether subjective and cortical activation changes during odour priming would vary as a function of SOA between odours and faces. Twenty-eight participants rated faces under pleasant, unpleasant, and no-odour conditions using visual analogue scales. In half of trials, faces appeared one-second after odour offset (SOA 1). In the other half of trials, faces appeared during the odour pulse (SOA 2). EEG was recorded continuously using a 128-channel system, and event-related potentials (ERPs) to face stimuli were evaluated using statistical parametric mapping (SPM). Faces presented during unpleasant-odour stimulation were rated significantly less pleasant than the same faces presented one-second after offset of the unpleasant odour. Scalp-time clusters in the late-positive-potential (LPP) time-range showed an interaction between odour and SOA effects, whereby activation was stronger for faces presented simultaneously with the unpleasant odour, compared to the same faces presented after odour offset. Our results highlight stronger unpleasant odour priming with simultaneous, compared to delayed, odour-face presentation. Such effects were represented in both behavioural and neural data. A greater cortical and subjective response during simultaneous presentation of faces and unpleasant odour may have an adaptive role, allowing for a prompt and focused behavioural reaction to a concurrent stimulus if an aversive odour would signal danger, or unwanted social interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - 13 Apr 2018


  • EEG
  • Olfaction
  • Perception
  • Time


Dive into the research topics of 'Simultaneous odour-face presentation strengthens hedonic evaluations and event-related potential responses influenced by unpleasant odour'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this