Anomalies in Cognition: Olfactory Memory


The two experiments presented in this paper examine the effects of strategies and interference tasks on odor recognition. In the first experiment (an extension of Lyman and McDaniel’s study from 1986), participants were asked to smell 30 odors and to perform different elaborative tasks for each of them such as: (1) providing a name or a short definition; (2) creating an image; (3) describing a specific life episode; (4) simply smelling the odors. Results showed no effect of encoding tasks on the correct recognition of odors. In the second experiment, participants were exposed to either 15 olfactory stimuli, 15 visual stimuli (photographs of human faces), or 15 acoustic stimuli (environmental sounds). In the four sessions of the experiment, they had to recognize the stimuli whether in a no-interference condition, or in an intramodality, or in two intermodalities interfering conditions. Consistently with the literature, interference affects recognition for visual and acoustic material but has no effect on odor recognition. The results of both experiments and some other anomalies in olfactory memory are discussed and tentatively integrated into a single model. The main assumption is that memory for odors represents a unique and separate memory system.

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@inproceedings{Zucco2003AnomaliesIC, title={Anomalies in Cognition: Olfactory Memory}, author={Gesualdo M. Zucco}, year={2003} }