Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

© Copyright © 2020 Taylor, Lau, Seymour, Nakae, Sumioka, Kawato and Koizumi. Olfaction is an evolutionary ancient sense, but it remains unclear to what extent it can influence routine human behavior. We examined whether a threat-relevant predator odor (2-methyl-2-thiazoline) would contextually enhance the formation of human fear memory associations. Participants who learned to associate visual stimuli with electric shock in this predator odor context later showed stronger fear responses to the visual stimuli than participants who learned in an aversiveness-matched control odor context. This effect generalized to testing in another odor context, even after extinction training. Results of a separate experiment indicate that a possible biological mechanism for this effect may be increased cortisol levels in a predator odor context. These results suggest that innate olfactory processes can play an important role in human fear learning. Modulatory influences of odor contexts may partly explain the sometimes maladaptive persistence of human fear memory, e.g., in post-traumatic stress disorders.

Original publication

DOI

10.3389/fnins.2020.00255

Type

Journal article

Journal

Frontiers in Neuroscience

Publication Date

22/04/2020

Volume

14