Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

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

Abstract

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.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

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

References

  1. 1

    Gielen, S. C., Schmidt, R. A. & Van Der Heuvel, P. J. Percept. Psychophys. 34, 161–168 (1983).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Wallace, M. T., Wilkinson, L. K. & Stein, B. E. J. Neurophysiol. 76, 1246–1266 (1996).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Sparks, D. L. & Groh, J. M. in The Cognitive Neurosciences (ed. Gazzaniga, M. S.) 565–584 (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1995).

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Stevens, J. C. Physiol. Behav. 62, 1137–1143 (1997).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Guadagni, D. G., Buttery, R. G., Okano, S. & Burr, H. K. Nature 200, 1288–1289 (1963).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Murphy, C., Cain, W. S. & Bartoshuk, L. M. Sens. Process. 1, 204–211 (1977).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Wetherill, G. B. & Levitt, H. Br. J. Math. Stat. Psychol. 18, 1–10 (1965).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Frank, R. A. & Byran, J. Chem. Senses 13, 445–455 (1988).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Schifferstein, H. N. & Verlegh, P. W. Acta Psychol. 94, 87–105 (1996).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Fowler, C. A. & Dekle, J. A. J. Exp. Psychol. Hum. Percept. Perform. 17, 816–828 (1991).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Krushel, L. A. & van der Kooy, D. J. Comp. Neurol. 270, 39–54 (1988).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Rolls, E. T. & Baylis, L. L. J. Neurosci. 14, 5437–5452 (1994).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Whalen, P. J. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 7, 177–188 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Schul, R., Slotnick, B. M. & Dudai, Y. Behav. Neurosci. 110, 760–765 (1996).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Kapp, B. S., Whalen, P. J., Supple, W. F. & Pascoe, J. P. in The Amygdala: Neurobiological Aspects of Emotion, Memory and Mental Dysfunction (ed. Aggleton, J. P.) 229–254 (Wiley-Liss, New York, 1992).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to P. Dalton.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

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). https://doi.org/10.1038/74797

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing