A Sense So Rare: Measuring Olfactory Experiences and Making a Case for a Process Perspective on Sensory Perception

  title={A Sense So Rare: Measuring Olfactory Experiences and Making a Case for a Process Perspective on Sensory Perception},
  author={Ann-Sophie Barwich},
  journal={Biological Theory},
  • A. Barwich
  • Published 29 March 2014
  • Biology
  • Biological Theory
Philosophical discussion about the reality of sensory perceptions has been hijacked by two tendencies. First, talk about perception has been largely centered on vision. Second, the realism question is traditionally approached by attaching objects or material structures to matching contents of sensory perceptions. These tendencies have resulted in an argumentative impasse between realists and anti-realists, discussing the reliability of means by which the supposed causal information transfer… 
Up the nose of the beholder? Aesthetic perception in olfaction as a decision-making process
Abstract Is the sense of smell a source of aesthetic perception? Traditional philosophical aesthetics has centered on vision and audition but eliminated smell for its subjective and inherently
A Critique of Olfactory Objects
  • A. Barwich
  • Medicine, Psychology
    Front. Psychol.
  • 2019
The argument demonstrates that olfaction affords perceptual categorization without the need to form odor objects, and contrasts the coding principles in olf action with the visual system to show why these criteria of objecthood fail to be instantiated in odor perception.
Olfactory Objecthood
In the contemporary analytic discussions concerning human olfactory perception, it is commonly claimed that (1) olfactory experiences are representations having content and (2) olfactory experiences
Smelling objects
This paper offers two empirically tractable criteria for assessing whether particular objects are exhibited in perceptual experience—(1) susceptibility to figure-ground segregation and (2) perceptual constancies—and argues that these criteria are fulfilled by olfactory perception, and thus there are olf factory objects.
Imaging the Living Brain: An argument for ruthless reductionism from olfactory neurobiology.
  • A. Barwich
  • Medicine
    Journal of theoretical biology
  • 2020
It is shown that molecular and cellular mechanisms must constitute the material foundation to derive better theories and models for neuroscience, and the recent application of a new real-time molecular imaging technique (SCAPE microscopy) to mixture coding in olfaction is explored.
The nonclassical mereology of olfactory experiences
It is argued that odours are perceptually experienced as having a mereological structure, but this structure is significantly different from the spatialmereological structure of visually experienced objects.
In smell’s shadow: Materials and politics at the edge of perception
  • C. Spackman
  • Medicine, Geography
    Social studies of science
  • 2020
An alternate future is suggested, where sensory science acts to record sensory labor that produces facts about collective experience that cannot (easily) travel through current systems, a process that is one possible way of beginning to unravel entrenched systems of toxic harm.
Fodor on imagistic mental representations
Abstract: Fodor’s view of the mind is thoroughly computational . This means that the basic kind of mental entity is a “discursive” mental representation and operations over this kind of mental
Spatial aspects of olfactory experience
  • S. Aasen
  • Psychology
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy
  • 2019
Abstract Several theorists argue that one does not experience something as being at or coming from a distance or direction in olfaction. In contrast to this, I suggest that there can be a variety of
Sensory Measurements: Coordination and Standardization
Do sensory measurements deserve the label of “measurement”? We argue that they do. They fit with an epistemological view of measurement held in current philosophy of science, and they face the same


Is Trilled Smell Possible? How the Structure of Olfaction Determines the Phenomenology of Smell
Smell 'sensations' are among the most mysterious of conscious experiences, and have been cited in defense of the thesis that the character of perceptual experience is independent of the physical
Quantification of odor quality.
This review scrutinizes how psychophysicists and others have measured quality and offers criteria for useful techniques, including nonsubjective techniques that have high sensitivity, can have counterparts in infrahuman research, are suitable to examine individual differences and yield non-negotiable answers with potential archival value.
The fundamental role of memory in olfactory perception
It is proposed that early analytical processing of odors is inaccessible at the behavioral level and that all odors are initially encoded as 'objects' in the piriform cortex and that its loss severely impairs normal perception.
What's That Smell?
In philosophical discussions of the secondary qualities, color has taken center stage. Smells, tastes, sounds, and feels have been treated, by and large, as mere accessories to colors. We are, as it
Associative Learning and Odor Quality Perception: How Sniffing an Odor Mixture Can Alter the Smell of Its Parts☆
Abstract Odors can acquire perceptual qualities from other odors with which they have been mixed. This finding was extended using new odorants and its constraints and mechanisms were explored. In
The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception
Contents: Preface. Introduction. Part I: The Environment To Be Perceived.The Animal And The Environment. Medium, Substances, Surfaces. The Meaningful Environment. Part II: The Information For Visual
Psychophysical and behavioral characteristics of olfactory adaptation.
  • P. Dalton
  • Medicine, Psychology
    Chemical senses
  • 2000
Olfactory adaptation has been shown to be very long-lasting in some cases and may be modulated by the contribution of pre-neural events and physico-chemical properties of the odorant molecules that govern diffusion to receptor sites and post-receptor clearance.
Lessons from beyond vision (sounds and audition)
Recent work on non-visual modalities aims to translate, extend, revise, or unify claims about perception beyond vision. This paper presents central lessons drawn from attention to hearing, sounds,
Vibrationally assisted electron transfer mechanism of olfaction: myth or reality?
The vibrationally assisted mechanism of olfaction is introduced and it is demonstrated for several odorants that, indeed, a strong enhancement of an electron tunneling rate due to odorant vibrations can arise.
Consciousness and Experience
This sequel to Lycan's Consciousness (1987) continues the elaboration of his general functionalist theory of consciousness, answers the critics of his earlier work, and expands the range of