Characteristics of electroencephalographic responses induced by a pleasant and an unpleasant odor

Yeon Kyu Kim, Shigeki Watanuki

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    26 Citations (Scopus)


    More than sensory stimuli, odorous stimuli were employed to facilitate the evocation of emotional responses in the present study. The odor-stimulated emotion was evaluated by investigating specific features of encephalographic (EEG) responses produced thereof. In this study, the concentrations of the same odor were altered; viz., the changes in odor-induced emotional level were compared with the concurrently monitored EEG response features. In addition, we performed the mental task to evoke the arousal state of the brain and investigated the resemblance of response characteristics of the resting state to the post-mental task resting state. Subjects having no abnormalities in the sense of smell included 12 male undergraduate and graduate students (age range: 22-26 years). Experiment I involved 2 types of odors that induced favorable odorous stimuli (pleasant induction); test-solutions were either diluted 150 (easily perceptible odorous sensation) or 500 (slightly perceptible odorous stimuli) times. Experiment II had 2 types of odors that evoked unfavorable odorous stimuli (unpleasant induction), and test-solutions with dilution rates similar to those of pleasant induction were prepared. Odorless distilled water was used as the control in both experiments. From results of rating the odorous stimuli of our compounds used, the candidates were respectively found to be appropriate in inducing the pleasant and unpleasant smell sensations. The analyses of EEG responses on inducing pleasant and unpleasant smell sensations revealed that the EEG activities of the left frontal region were enhanced. This finding may establish the hypothesis of a relationship prevailing between the positive approach-related emotion evoked by the visual sensation and the left hemisphere (Davidson, 1992; Tomarken et al., 1989). In other words, it can be interpreted that the negative withdrawal-related emotion may be associated with activities of the right hemisphere. However, this hypothesis may not be applicable to the unpleasant odors, as the unpleasant emotions are activated by the unpleasant odors not only in the bilateral frontal regions but also over an extensive area of the brain. As such, the pleasant emotions are evoked in the left frontal brain region while the unpleasant emotions are incited in the bilateral frontal and extensive regions in the brain with the odorous stimuli. Moreover, intrinsic EEG activities in response to the pleasant and unpleasant inputs were not observed after performing the mental tasks. In other words, EEG responses reflecting central nervous system activities elevated by loading of the mental tasks as a result of exposure to the pleasant and unpleasant odors may not apparently be observed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)285-291
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of physiological anthropology and applied human science
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Social Sciences(all)


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