Date of Award

2012

First Advisor

Eden-Renee Hayes

Second Advisor

Stuart Levine

Third Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Abstract

This study examines the relationship between verbal cognition and implicit associative memories for odors. A memory-based system of odor perception is reviewed and discussed to distinguish between the perception of odors and memory for odors. Specifically, the hippocampus is identified as the principal structure involved in the integration and remembrance of odor-associated information following odor perception. An experimental study was designed to test implicit verbal activation in memory by common odors. In order to demonstrate verbal activation at the initial perception of an odor, a free-association task was designed to elicit words associated to a lemon odor. Participants were presented the complete word set (including neutral—non-lemon associated—words) and were asked to recall as many words as possible immediately following the presentation, and again during a follow-up session within five days. The results support the hypothesis that recall of lemonassociated words are facilitated (or enhanced) by the presence of the associated odor at retrieval, demonstrating active memory-based semantic perception of the odor through words. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed along with potential modifications for future research.

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