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Motohiro Ito, Jun Kawahara; Beneficial effect of exposure to fragrances on attentional blink. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1200. doi: 10.1167/17.10.1200.
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Recent studies have suggested that aromas can affect the allocation of attention in space and time. For example, Colzato et al. (2014) demonstrated that attentional blink, which refers to a deficit in reporting the second of two targets presented in close temporal succession, is affected by aroma. Specifically, participants exposed to a relaxing lavender aroma showed a less pronounced attentional blink than did those in an odorless room. However, a more pronounced attentional blink was observed when participants were exposed to a more stimulating peppermint aroma. These findings suggest that environmental factors, such as aromas, contribute to the allocation of temporal attention. The present study extended these findings in two ways: it demonstrated that exposure to another aroma (e.g., rosemary, a relaxing odor), as well as the method used to present the aromas, affect performance on attentional blink tasks. Specifically, using a between-subjects design, we asked participants to perform the task while wearing a peppermint-, lavender-, or rosemary-scented sanitary mask (or while wearing an odorless mask under a control condition). These products, which are types of sanitary mask supposed to prevent the spread of airborne diseases, are common in Japan. If the hypothesis proposed by Colzato et al. (2014) were applicable under the experimental conditions, the attentional blink would be increased under the stimulating peppermint condition but reduced under the relaxing rosemary and lavender conditions. Interestingly, the results revealed reduced attentional blink effects under all scented-mask conditions compared with under the control condition. This pattern of results partially disconfirmed the hypothesis and suggests that an improved allocation of attention in the temporal domain does not necessarily require that testing environments include relaxing aromas. Instead, minimal exposure to relaxing and stimulating aromas via scented sanitary masks was sufficient to obtain the reduction in the attentional blink effect.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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