Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Nasal Rivalry

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Nasal Rivalry

Article excerpt

OLFACTION

ZHOU & CHEN (in press). Binaral rivalry between the nostrils and in the cortex. Curr Biol. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.07.052

We all know what happens when an image of one object is projected to the left eye and an image of a different object is projected to the right. The two objects are not seen simultaneously; rather, percepts of each object typically alternate, revealing the operation of a suppressive mechanism. Such rivalry has been well documented in the visual system, and an analogous effect has also been demonstrated in the auditory system when discrepant sounds are presented to each ear. However, in addition to having two eyes and two ears, we also have two nostrils (or nares); but, interestingly, empirical investigations of "binaral" rivalry have been relatively lacking until now. What happens when one scent is sniffed by the left nostril and a different scent is sniffed by the right? Do we combine the scents, or do we smell them individually in succession?

Zhou and Chen recently addressed this question by devising an apparatus in which a rose-like scent could be whiffed by one nostril and the smell of marker pen could be whiffed by the other. …

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