Assessment of olfactory perception in individuals with motion sickness

Jacquot, Laurence, Millot, Jean-Louis and Paillard, Aurore (2018) Assessment of olfactory perception in individuals with motion sickness. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance, 89 (5). pp. 428-433.


Individuals who experience motion sickness (MS) frequently mention the presence of smells in the environment as a factor favoring the occurrence of MS symptoms. The aim of the present work was to compare olfactory function in MS sensitive (MS+) and insensitive (MS-) subjects.

Olfactory testing included determination of odor detection thresholds, subjective evaluation of the quality (intensity, hedonicity and familiarity) of three different odorants (limonene, isovaleric acid and petrol) as well as measures of skin conductance responses to these three odorants.

Results showed no difference in olfactory sensitivity between MS+ and MS- subjects. However, findings of both subjective (odor quality self-rating) and objective (psychophysiological responses) measures did reveal that the affective response to petrol odor was significantly different in MS+ and in MS- subjects. Indeed, on a scale from 0 (unpleasant) to 10 (pleasant) MS+ subjects rated petrol odor as more unpleasant (mean 5 2.52) than MS- subjects (mean 5 4.15) and rise-time of skin conductance responses to petrol odor was significantly longer in MS+ (mean 5 5.98 s) compared to MS- subjects (mean 5 3.22 s).

Our study delves further into the knowledge of the relationship between motion sickness and olfaction by underlying a modified olfactory perception in motion sickness sensitive subjects at both psychophysical and psychophysiological levels.

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