Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Olfactory-Visual Congruence Effects Stable across Ages: Yellow Is Warmer When It Is Pleasantly Lemony

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Olfactory-Visual Congruence Effects Stable across Ages: Yellow Is Warmer When It Is Pleasantly Lemony

Article excerpt

Published online: 13 June 2014

# The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract This study aimed to examine the age-related differences in the olfactory-visual cross-correspondences and the extent to which they are moderated by the odors pleasantness. Sixty participants aged from 20- to 75- years (young, middle-aged and older adults) performed a priming task to explore the influence of six olfactory primes (lemon, orange, rose, thyme, mint and fish) on the categorization (cool vs. warm) of six subsequent color targets (yellow, orange, pink, malachite green, grass-green, and blue-gray). We tested mixed effects models. Response times were regressed on covariates models using both fixed effects (Groups of age, olfactory Pleasantness and multimodal Condition) and cross-random effects (Subject, Color and Odor). The random effects coding for Odor (p < .001) and Color (p = .001) were significant. There was a significant interaction effect ( p= .004) between Condition × Pleasantness, but not with Groups of age. The compatibility effect (i.e., when odors and colors were congruent, the targets processing were facilitated) was as much enhanced as the olfactory primes were pleasant. Cross-correspondences between olfaction and vision may be robust in aging. They should be considered alongside spatiotemporal but also emotional congruency.

Keywords Multisensory priming . Olfaction . Color vision . Pleasantness . Aging


The world is, by nature, a succession of multisensory events, increasing perceptual saliency and reliability, and even favor- ing learning, stimuli discrimination or detection (Vroomen & Keetels, 2010). A large part of the neuroscientific research corpus shows the existence of consistent cross-modal corre- spondences between many stimulus features in various sen- sory modalities (e.g., Beauchamp, Haxby, Jennings, & DeYoe, 1999; Heurley, Brouillet, Chesnoy, & Brouillet, 2012). These cross-modal correspondences may exist be- tween all possible sensory modalities (for a review, see Spence, 2011), but most studies have focused on auditory and visual stimuli (Diaconescu, Hasher, & McIntosh, 2013; Liu, Wu, & Meng, 2012; Vallet, Hudon, Simard, & Versace, in press) or audition and somatosensation (e.g., Ro, Ellmore, & Beauchamp, 2013). Only a few experiments have suggested the existence of robust correspondences between vision and olfaction in adulthood. For example, colors may match to odors in untrained participants (Gilbert, Martin, & Kemp, 1996) and stronger odors seemed associated with darker colors (Kemp & Gilbert, 1997). A perceptual illusion may occur during the verbalization phase of odor determination (Morrot, Brochet, & Dubourdieu, 2001). In perfumery, Kim (2013) used a direct color-fragrance matching test and a fragrance-color degree of similarity judgement with four fra- grance families. The correspondences between the fragrance families and colors were clearly influenced by the hue and tone conditions. For fruit beverages (Zellner, Bartoli, & Eckard, 1991) or wines (Spence, 2010), congruent color-odor associations provide very useful information and improve both identification and liking of the odors.

In aging literature, the extent to which multisensory inte- gration processes evolve with age remains manifest (Cerf- Ducastel & Murphy, 2009). Older adults may benefit more than young adults from temporally- and semantically- congruent cross-modal information. For instance, Laurienti, Burdette, Maldjian, and Wallace (2006) evaluated multisen- sory integration in the elderly using reaction time measures in a redundant-target discrimination task study. The participants were presented with either a visual stimulus alone (blue and red filled circles), an auditory stimulus alone (the sounds "blue" and "red"), or a combined visual-auditory (multisen- sory cues) stimulus. Responses were speeded in both groups when auditory and visual stimuli were congruent, but older adults benefited more than younger adults from the combina- tion of information from multiple sensory modalities. …

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