Chemosensory Perception

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 59–66 | Cite as

Temporal Encoding During Unimodal and Bimodal Odor Processing in the Human Brain

  • Anna Oleszkiewicz
  • Robert PellegrinoEmail author
  • Cagdas Guducu
  • Linda Farschi
  • Jonathan Warr
  • Thomas Hummel



In daily life, people encounter a wide range of odors, most of which contain multiple chemical substances. So-called bimodal odors stimulate both the olfactory and trigeminal nerve, and the interaction between these two systems shapes the perception of the odor. However, temporal encoding of these sensory systems during bimodal odor processing has received limited scientific attention.


To investigate this, we recorded the electrophysiological response in 17 participants to relatively unimodal olfactory (strawberry), trigeminal (l-isopulegol) and strongly bimodal (strawberry and l-isopulegol) stimuli.


ERP amplitudes and intensity ratings were significantly bigger for bimodal stimulation, as compared to unimodal stimulations. No significant difference was observed between N1 and P2 response latencies to olfactory and bimodal stimuli while responses to both stimuli showed longer latencies compared to the response of the trigeminal stimulus.


Results provide further evidence of interaction between olfactory and trigeminal systems; additional activation of the olfactory system results in more vigorous electrophysiological responses and the experience of higher intensity. In addition, results indicate that the trigeminal system is faster to react to stimulation.


The current study offers a view on the temporal processing of bimodal odorants that are most likely to be encountered in the environment. We link the more vigorous electrophysiological response to a more complex odorant with activation of different neural structures.


Olfaction Trigeminal Bimodal odor EEG ERPs 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Funding Information

This work was supported by the Takasago International Corporation, Tokyo, Japan. AO was supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (#626/STYP/12/2017).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Ethical Approval

The study is performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki on Biomedical Studies Involving Human Subjects.

Informed Consent

Informed written consent was obtained from all the participants. The study design and consent approach were approved by the TU Dresden Medical Faculty Ethics Review Board (EK394102014).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
corrected publication 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smell & Taste Clinic, Department of OtorhinolaryngologyTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Psychology, University of WroclawWroclawPoland
  3. 3.Department of Food Science, Institute of AgricultureUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biophysics, Faculty of MedicineDokuz Eylul UniversityIzmirTurkey
  5. 5.Takasago Europe Perfumery Laboratory sarlParisFrance

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