Is there a relationship between odours and motion sickness?

Paillard, Aurore, Lamôré, M., Etard, O., Millot, Jean-Louis, Jacquot, Laurence, Denise, Pierre and Quarck, Gaëlle (2014) Is there a relationship between odours and motion sickness? Neuroscience Letters, 566. pp. 326-330. ISSN 0304-3940


The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between olfaction and motion sickness. A sample of 18 participants was recruited and submitted to three sessions of nauseogenic stimulations: off vertical axis rotation (OVAR), performed under conditions of olfactory stimulation with limonene (pleasant odor), petrol (unpleasant odor) or distilled water (as a control). Motion sickness was assessed before, during and after each OVAR session. In addition, participants were asked to evaluate the intensity and hedonic valence of four odors (geraniol, limonene, butanol, petrol) as well as distilled water (as a control) before and after each OVAR session. Our analysis showed that OVAR has consistently increased the induced- motion sickness. However the addition of an odor that is pleasant or unpleasant during the rotation did not affect the occurrence of motion sickness symptoms compared to the control condition. Our results also showed that intensity of odors was significantly increased after OVAR and the intensity was significantly higher for unpleasant odors than for pleasant one. For the hedonicity, OVAR made unpleasant odors more unpleasant (p < 0.0001) while it made limonene odor slightly more pleasant (p < 0.05). The present study highlighted the lack of influence of odors in motion-induced sickness but an impact of a nauseogenic test on olfactory perception.

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