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Olfactory perception and motion sickness

Paillard, Aurora and Jacquot, Laurence and Millot, Jean-Louis (2010) Olfactory perception and motion sickness. In: XXth Congress of European Chemoreception Research Organization, ECRO-2010, 14-19 September 2010, Avignon, France.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Paillard, Aurora and Jacquot, Laurence and Millot, Jean-Louis


The motion complexity of modern vehicles may cause several symptoms as nausea, headache, postural discomfort and unsteadiness that are classified within the broad definition of motion sickness (Golding, 2005). Whereas the scientific community renews efforts to develop some behavioural and pharmaceutical techniques to sup- press motion sickness, this problem is not resolved yet. Interestingly, several authors proposed that unpleasant odors could contribute to motion sickness (Glaser, 1959; Turner and Griffin, 1999; Fessler and Arguello, 2004). However, the relation between olfactory system and motion sickness has not been previously investigated. For this purpose, subjects were recruited among healthy and non-smoker women fulfilling Golding’s (1998) Motion Sickness Susceptibility Questionnaire (MSSQ). Subjects were divided in two groups: (1) subjects who are very sensitive to motion sickness (N=10), (2) subjects who are not sensitive to motion sickness (N=10). We compared with usual psychophysics methods the olfactory sensitivity (i.e. threshold testing with the odor of n-butanol), and the self-ratings of intensity, familiarity and hedonic valence of a panel of seventeen odorants. Our results showed: (i) a poor olfactory sensitivity in subjects sensitive to motion sickness (Intergroup T-test, T=2.63), (ii) that motion sickness sensitive subjects judged the odor of leather as more unpleasant than the other group (Inter- group T-test, T=-3.53), (iii) motion sickness sensitive subjects judged the odor of petrol as more unpleasant (Intergroup T-test, T=-3.46) and more familiar than the other group (Intergroup T- test, T=2.43).

The present results pointed out some differences on olfactory perception relative to motion sickness susceptibility. Herz (2005) high- lighted that the emotional context in which an odor is encountered could influence odor hedonic perception and odor-related behaviour. Thus, we could proposed that subjects who are very sensitive to motion sickness judge odours of leather and petrol as unpleasant because it remind them the bad experience of motion sickness in vehicles, in particular in cars. In this way, we could explain the poor olfactory sensitivity of these subjects as a defence reaction to con- tend to motion sickness. Although several points of our results need to be deeper explore, this study provided support for new techniques to help motion sickness sensitive subjects, based on olfactory perception.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

This abstract was published in the journal Chemical Senses, 2011, 36(1), E35.


Fessler D.M.T., and Arguello A.P. (2004). The relationship between susceptibility to nausea and vomiting and the possession of conditioned food aversions. Appetite., 43, 331-334.
Glaser E.M. (1959). Prevention and treatment of motion sickness. Proc. R. Soc. Med., 52 (965), 21-28.
Golding J.F. (1998). Motion sickness susceptibility questionnaire revised and its relationship to other forms of sickness. Brain Res. Bull., 47(5), 507–516.
Herz R.S. (2005). Odor-associate learning and emotion: effects on perception and behaviour. Chem. Senses, 30 (1), i250-i251.
Turner M. and Griffin M.J. (1999). Motion sickness in public road transport: passenger behaviour and susceptibility. Ergonomics., 42(3), 444-461.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: September 2010
Event Location: Avignon, France
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2016 18:50
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2016 18:50
Item ID: 10442
URI: http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/10442

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