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The merging of the senses: integration of subthreshold taste and smell


Central neural integration of sensory input from different modalities is a prerequisite for many types of perception and behavior. One of the best examples of such an integrative process may be flavor perception, whereby activation in two peripherally distinct neural systems, olfaction and gustation, combines to give rise to a unified oral sensation. Here we used a psychophysical method to show cross-modal summation of subthreshold concentrations of selected gustatory and olfactory stimuli, thus demonstrating that central neural integration of taste and smell inputs generates a representation of flavor perception.

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Figure 1: Median percent change from baseline benzaldehyde threshold in experiments 1–3.


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This work was supported by NIH grants RO1-DC03704 (P.D.) and R29-DC02995 (P.B.). We thank Ines Rodriguez for assistance with data collection.

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Correspondence to P. Dalton.

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Dalton, P., Doolittle, N., Nagata, H. et al. The merging of the senses: integration of subthreshold taste and smell. Nat Neurosci 3, 431–432 (2000).

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