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Just noticeable differences in component concentrations modify the odor quality of a blending mixture

Abstract : The odors we perceive are mainly the result of mixtures of odorants that, however, are commonly perceived as single undivided entities; nevertheless, the processes involved remain poorly explored. It has been recently reported that perceptual blending based on configural olfactory processing can cause odorant mixtures to give rise to an emergent odor not present in the components. The present study examined whether specific component proportions are required to elicit an emergent odor. Starting from the composition of a ternary target mixture in which an emergent pineapple odor was perceived, 4 concentration levels of each component were chosen to elicit just noticeable differences (JNDs). Each combination of levels was used to design sample mixtures. Fifteen subjects evaluated the intensity, typicality, and pleasantness of each sample mixture against the target mixture in a paired-comparison protocol. Statistical modeling showed that a variation of less than 1 JND in one of the components was sufficient to induce a significant decrease in pineapple odor typicality in the ternary mixture. This finding confirms previous findings on perceptual blending in simple odorant mixtures and underscores the human ability to discriminate between odor percepts induced by mixtures including very similar odorant proportions.
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Elodie Le Berre, Noëlle Béno, Akiko Ishii, Claire Chabanet, Patrick Etievant, et al.. Just noticeable differences in component concentrations modify the odor quality of a blending mixture. Chemical Senses, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2008, 33 (4), pp.389-395. ⟨10.1093/chemse/bjn006⟩. ⟨hal-02667951⟩



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