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Olfactory Orientation and Navigation in Humans.

Jacobs LF, Arter J, Cook A, Sulloway FJ - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Here we show that humans can do so.Humans located the target with higher accuracy in the olfaction-only condition than in the control condition and showed higher accuracy than chance.Thus a mechanism long proposed for the homing pigeon, the ability to define a location on a map constructed from chemical stimuli, may also be a navigational mechanism used by humans.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Although predicted by theory, there is no direct evidence that an animal can define an arbitrary location in space as a coordinate location on an odor grid. Here we show that humans can do so. Using a spatial match-to-sample procedure, humans were led to a random location within a room diffused with two odors. After brief sampling and spatial disorientation, they had to return to this location. Over three conditions, participants had access to different sensory stimuli: olfactory only, visual only, and a final control condition with no olfactory, visual, or auditory stimuli. Humans located the target with higher accuracy in the olfaction-only condition than in the control condition and showed higher accuracy than chance. Thus a mechanism long proposed for the homing pigeon, the ability to define a location on a map constructed from chemical stimuli, may also be a navigational mechanism used by humans.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Accuracy of reorientation to the trained location.Mean (±SE) distance (cm) from the target location to the participant’s best estimate of the recalled location for each within-subject condition.
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pone.0129387.g002: Accuracy of reorientation to the trained location.Mean (±SE) distance (cm) from the target location to the participant’s best estimate of the recalled location for each within-subject condition.

Mentions: We calculated reorientation accuracy as the distance between the sampled target location and the participant’s subsequent estimate of this location (Fig 2). The mean distance in the Olfaction condition was 289.0 cm (SD = 146.0; Fig 3). In the Control condition, it was 361.4 cm (SD = 153.2). In the visual Task Validation, as expected, performance was at ceiling (mean distance = 12.3 cm, SD = 33.5). We compared target-estimate distance between the Olfaction and Control conditions using repeated-measures ANOVA, in a model that included gender as a between-subjects variable as well as three covariates: participants’ ratings of their confidence in their estimate, latency to locate target in the Olfaction condition and room temperature. Target-estimate distances were significantly larger in the Control condition than in the Olfaction condition, F(1, 43) = 4.11, p = .049, partial η2 = .087, 90% CI [.00, .25]; M = 73.9 cm, 95% CI [0.4, 147.4]. No other variables in the model were significant predictors. Thus, reorientation was significantly more accurate when participants had access to odor stimuli compared to the Control condition, in which olfactory information was absent.


Olfactory Orientation and Navigation in Humans.

Jacobs LF, Arter J, Cook A, Sulloway FJ - PLoS ONE (2015)

Accuracy of reorientation to the trained location.Mean (±SE) distance (cm) from the target location to the participant’s best estimate of the recalled location for each within-subject condition.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4470656&req=5

pone.0129387.g002: Accuracy of reorientation to the trained location.Mean (±SE) distance (cm) from the target location to the participant’s best estimate of the recalled location for each within-subject condition.
Mentions: We calculated reorientation accuracy as the distance between the sampled target location and the participant’s subsequent estimate of this location (Fig 2). The mean distance in the Olfaction condition was 289.0 cm (SD = 146.0; Fig 3). In the Control condition, it was 361.4 cm (SD = 153.2). In the visual Task Validation, as expected, performance was at ceiling (mean distance = 12.3 cm, SD = 33.5). We compared target-estimate distance between the Olfaction and Control conditions using repeated-measures ANOVA, in a model that included gender as a between-subjects variable as well as three covariates: participants’ ratings of their confidence in their estimate, latency to locate target in the Olfaction condition and room temperature. Target-estimate distances were significantly larger in the Control condition than in the Olfaction condition, F(1, 43) = 4.11, p = .049, partial η2 = .087, 90% CI [.00, .25]; M = 73.9 cm, 95% CI [0.4, 147.4]. No other variables in the model were significant predictors. Thus, reorientation was significantly more accurate when participants had access to odor stimuli compared to the Control condition, in which olfactory information was absent.

Bottom Line: Here we show that humans can do so.Humans located the target with higher accuracy in the olfaction-only condition than in the control condition and showed higher accuracy than chance.Thus a mechanism long proposed for the homing pigeon, the ability to define a location on a map constructed from chemical stimuli, may also be a navigational mechanism used by humans.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Although predicted by theory, there is no direct evidence that an animal can define an arbitrary location in space as a coordinate location on an odor grid. Here we show that humans can do so. Using a spatial match-to-sample procedure, humans were led to a random location within a room diffused with two odors. After brief sampling and spatial disorientation, they had to return to this location. Over three conditions, participants had access to different sensory stimuli: olfactory only, visual only, and a final control condition with no olfactory, visual, or auditory stimuli. Humans located the target with higher accuracy in the olfaction-only condition than in the control condition and showed higher accuracy than chance. Thus a mechanism long proposed for the homing pigeon, the ability to define a location on a map constructed from chemical stimuli, may also be a navigational mechanism used by humans.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus