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Binaral Rivalry in the Presence of Visual Perceptual and Semantic Influences
Published: Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Author: Jennifer Chen et al.

by Jennifer Chen, Wen Zhou, Denise Chen

When two different odorants are presented simultaneously to the two nostrils, we experience alternations in olfactory percepts, a phenomenon called binaral rivalry. Little is known about the nature of such alternations. Here we investigate this issue by subjecting unstable and stable olfactory percepts to the influences of visual perceptual or semantic cues as participants engage in simultaneous samplings of either two different odorants (binaral) or a single odorant and water (mononaral), one to each nostril. We show that alternations of olfactory percepts in the binaral setting persist in the presence of visual perceptual and semantic modulations. We also show that perceptual cues have a stronger effect than semantic cues in the binaral case, whereas their effects are comparable in the mononaral setting. Our findings provide evidence that an inherent, stimulus-driven process underlies binaral rivalry despite its general susceptibility to top-down influences.