Subthreshold Olfactory Stimulation Can Enhance Sweetness

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Abstract

The impact of olfactory perception on sweetness was explored in a model solution using odorants at subthreshold concentrations. First, the impact of 6 odorants, previously described in the literature as congruent with sweetness, was investigated at suprathreshold level in a sucrose solution. Ethyl butyrate and maltol were selected as they had the highest and the lowest sweetness-enhancing properties, respectively. Second, the impact on sweetness of the 2 odorants was investigated at subthreshold concentrations. A system delivering a continuous liquid flow at the same sucrose level, but with varying odorant concentrations, was used. At a subthreshold level, ethyl butyrate but not maltol significantly enhanced the sweetness of the sucrose solution. This study highlights that olfactory perception induced by odorants at a subthreshold level can significantly modulate taste perception. Finally, contrary to results observed with ethyl butyrate at suprathreshold levels, at subthreshold levels, the intensity of sweetness enhancement was not proportional to ethyl butyrate concentration.

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