Laing D G, Link C, Jinks A L, Hutchinson I, 2002, "The limited capacity of humans to identify the components of taste mixtures and taste - odour mixtures" Perception 31(5) 617 – 635
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The limited capacity of humans to identify the components of taste mixtures and taste - odour mixtures
David G Laing, Catherine Link, Anthony L Jinks, Ian Hutchinson
Received 21 February 2001, in revised form 9 January 2002
Abstract. The capacity of humans to identify the components of taste mixtures and odour - taste mixtures was investigated in two experiments. Subjects were trained to identify the components presented alone and to use a 'yes/no' procedure to identify them in mixtures. All stimuli were presented with a retronasal (by mouth) technique. A maximum of three tastants were identified in both types of mixtures, only one tastant was identified in five-component taste mixtures, and no component was identified in four-component odour - taste mixtures. Importantly, in no instance was the olfactory stimulus identified in any mixture with tastes, including binary mixtures. Loss of identity of the odorant in binary and ternary mixtures may have been due to suppression as a consequence of temporal processing, or to the absence of an association between the odorant and tastants that had established an identifiable percept. In contrast, poor identification of the components of the quaternary odour - taste mixture and quinternary taste mixture is attributed to the limited capacity of working memory. Overall, the poorer ability to identify components in odour - taste mixtures than in taste mixtures indicates that interactions occurred between the two senses, challenging the proposal that odours and tastes are processed independently when present in complex chemosensory stimuli.
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