Associations Between Decision Making and Hedonic Response to Odor
Madison Elaine Degnan
Associations Between Decision Making and Hedonic Response to Odor Background: The Limbic system supports many functions including emotion, behavior, motivation, decision-making, long-term memory, and olfaction. The olfactory bulb is connected to the amygdala and the hippocampus. The purpose of this study was to examine associations between pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings of odors and decision-making during a virtual gambling task. Methods: Undergraduate students (N=100) from a midsize private Midwestern university participated in the study for course research credit. They underwent tests of odor threshold detection, odor identification, and ratings of odor pleasantness and unpleasantness using the Sniffin' Sticks Test battery. They also completed the Iowa Gambling Task-II (IGT-II), a computerized task that assesses decision-making while gambling to earn fake money. The task utilizes four card different card decks: A) low-risk, low-reward, B) high-risk, low-reward, C) low-risk, high-reward, and D) high-risk, high-reward. Results: Total money earned on the IGT-II was associated with lower unpleasant odor ratings across all odors (r = -0.332 , p = 0.017). Number of draws from the high risk and low reward deck (r = 0.368, p = 0.008) was correlated with higher total unpleasantness ratings across all odors. Net total (r = -0.238, p = 0.093), draws from the high risk and high reward (r = 0.133, p = 0.352), low risk and high reward C (rho = 0.040, p = 0.781), and low risk low reward (r = -0.143, p = 0.317) were not significantly correlated with unpleasantness ratings across all odors. Conclusion: Poor decision-making was related to higher ratings of unpleasant odors, suggesting that those who reported more odors as unpleasant, were experiencing negative emotions in the prefrontal cortex, which inhibited decision-making. Participants who won more money reported lower ratings of total unpleasantness, suggesting that participants who rated more odors as pleasant were experiencing positive emotions in the prefrontal cortex, which facilitated decision making.
Julie Walsh Messinger
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences
"Associations Between Decision Making and Hedonic Response to Odor" (2020). Stander Symposium Projects. 1960.