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Seeing How Odor Is Processed in the Brain

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During the EEG measurement, participants were asked to rate the pleasantness of the odors. They then evaluated the odors ranging from citrus and tea leaves, to mothballs and wet dog.

Credit: Mugihiko Kato

Researchers at Japan's University of Tokyo (UTokyo) created an odor delivery device, then used machine learning (ML) to analyze electroencephalograms (EEGs) to determine how the brain processes scents.

Their device can dispense 10 unique odors to participants, who rated the pleasantness of each as EEG caps recorded their brain signals.

The ML analysis ascertained when and where the range of odors was processed in the brain, with high temporal resolution.

Said UTokyo's Mugihiko Kato, "We were surprised that we could detect signals from presented odors from very early EEG responses, as quickly as 100 milliseconds after odor onset, suggesting that representation of odor information in the brain occurs rapidly."

From University of Tokyo (Japan)
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