Rhiannon A Gibbs



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Depersonalization and derealization symptoms affect sensation, perception, and emotion, and typically result in subjective experiences of unreality and affective numbing (Simeon, 2004). Abnormalities in the amygdala, which is known to be associated with emotional reactions such as anxiety and fear (LeDoux, 1993) have been observed in depersonalization and derealization and other psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression (Sierra & Berrios, 1998). Olfactory deficits have been posited as a potential marker for psychiatric disorders, including depression (Atanasova, 2008). This may be due to the fact that within the brain, the olfactory system projects directly to the primary olfactory cortex, which includes the amygdala (Stockhorst & Pietrowsky, 2004). The relationship between depersonalization and derealization and olfactory function has yet to be examined. This study will investigate whether the presence of depersonalization and derealization symptoms is correlated with olfactory identification ability, odor threshold detection, and hedonic ratings of odors. It is hypothesized that: 1) odor identification ability will be negatively correlated with reported depersonalization and derealization symptoms; 2) odor detection threshold will be positively correlated with depersonalization and derealization symptoms; and 3) hedonic ratings of both pleasantness and unpleasantness of odors will be negatively correlated with depersonalization and derealization symptoms. Participants (N = 80) will be administered the Sniffin’ Sticks odor identification and threshold tests, rating scales of odor pleasantness and unpleasantness, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-Item Scale, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale-Revised, and the Cambridge Depersonalization Scale. Hypotheses will be analyzed using multiple regression analyses.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research - Graduate

Primary Advisor

Julie Messinger

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project

The Effect of Depersonalization and Derealization Symptoms on Olfaction and Olfactory Hedonics