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Potential Mechanisms Of Retronasal Odor Referral To The Mouth.

J. Lim, Maxwell B. Johnson
Published 2011 · Medicine

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The current study took a first step toward elucidating the sensory input that drives retronasal odor referral to the mouth. In 2 experiments, subjects performed odor localization tasks under various oral-nasal stimulation conditions that allowed us to assess the effects of direction of airflow, taste, and tactile stimulation on retronasal odor referral. Subjects reported the locations of perceived odors when food odorants were inhaled through the mouth alone or in the presence of water or various tastants in the mouth. The results indicated that when perceived alone, vanilla and soy sauce odor were localized 54.7%: 26.4%: 18.9% and 60.0%: 21.7%: 18.3% in the nose, oral cavity, and on the tongue, respectively. The localization of odors alone was not significantly different from when water was presented simultaneously in the mouth, indicating that tactile stimulation itself is not sufficient to enhance odor referral. However, the presence of sucrose, but not other tastes, significantly increased localization of vanilla to the tongue. Likewise, only NaCl significantly augmented referral of soy sauce odor to the tongue. These data indicate that referral of retronasal odors to the mouth can occur in the absence of a either taste or touch but that referral to the tongue depends strongly on the presence of a congruent taste.
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