Grasas y Aceites, Vol 67, No 4 (2016)

A neuroimaging study of pleasant and unpleasant olfactory perceptions of virgin olive oil

J. Vivancos
Hospital San Juan de Dios, Spain

N. Tena
Instituto de la Grasa (CSIC), Spain

M. T. Morales
Department of Analytical Chemistry, University of Seville, Spain

R. Aparicio
Instituto de la Grasa (CSIC), Spain

D. L. García-González
Instituto de la Grasa (CSIC), Spain


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been used to collect information from neurons that receive direct input from olfactory bulbs when subjects smell virgin olive oil. The pleasant aroma of three extra virgin olive oils (var. Royal, Arbequina and Picual) and three virgin olive oils with sensory defects (rancid, fusty and winey/vinegary) were presented to 14 subjects while a fMRI scan acquired data from the brain activity. Data were subjected to a two-sample t test analysis, which allows a better interpretation of results particularly when data are studied across different subjects. Most of the activations, which were located in the frontal lobe, are related to the olfactory task regardless of the hedonic component of perception (e.g. Brodmann areas 10, 11). Comparing the samples with pleasant and unpleasant aromas, differences were found at the anterior cingulate gyrus (Brodmann area 32), at the temporal lobe (Brodmann area 38), and inferior frontal gyrus (Brodmann area 47), while intense aromas activated Brodmann area 6. The actual perceptions described by the subjects and the concentration of the odorant compounds in the samples were considered in the interpretation of the results.


Aroma; Brain activation; Brodmann areas; fMRI; Olfaction; Virgin olive oil

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