Does gently clearing the nasal passage affect odor identification?

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Mitchell G. Spring
Thomas H. Wiseman
Robert M. Hallock *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Robert M. Hallock | rhallock@skidmore.edu

Abstract

Identifying scents in a wine’s bouquet is considered one of the most important steps in the process of wine tasting. An individual’s ability to successfully do this is dependent on the sense of smell; thus, altering the nasal microenvironment could have a powerful effect on the wine tasting experience. In the present study, we examined olfactory performance in healthy participants who cleared their nasal cavity before odorant presentations. Fifty undergraduate participants were assessed with a standardized test of olfaction requiring the recognition of a battery of odors. Half of these participants cleared mucus from their nasal cavities (by gently blowing their noses) prior to the assessment. No difference was found in performance between those who cleared their nasal passages and those who did not. Further, data were not different than known population data from the test. These data suggest that gently clearing the nasal cavity before presentation of odorants bears no effect on the ability to perceive those odor qualities.

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Author Biography

Robert M. Hallock, Neuroscience Program, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY

Neuroscience Program, Visiting Assistant Professor