Motor Cortex Response to Pleasant Odor Perception and Imagery: The Differential Role of Personality Dimensions and Imagery Ability

Front Hum Neurosci. 2022 Jul 12;16:943469. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2022.943469. eCollection 2022.


BACKGROUND: Neuroimaging studies have shown a complex pattern of brain activation during perception of a pleasant odor and during its olfactory imagery. To date, little is known regarding changes in motor cortex excitability during these tasks. Bergamot essential oil (BEO) is extensively used in perfumes and cosmetics for its pleasantness. Therefore, to further our understanding of the human sense of smell, this study aimed to investigate the effect of perception and imagery of a pleasant odor (BEO) on motor cortex using Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We examined the primary motor cortex (M1) excitability during perception of a pleasant odor (BEO) or perception of odorless saline (experiment 1). Furthermore, we tested the effect of olfactory imagery (OI) of BEO on corticospinal excitability (experiment 2). The increase in motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitude was correlated with personality dimensions scores, pleasantness, vividness, and general imagery ability.

RESULTS: The results indicate that the corticospinal excitability changed after both perception and imagery of a pleasant odor (BEO). The correlation analysis shows an association with neuroticism personality trait (experiment 1) and with general olfactory imagery ability (experiment 2).

CONCLUSION: Both perception of a pleasant odor and its olfactory imagery modulate motor cortex excitability. The enhanced brain activation is affected by specific individual characteristics. Overall, our findings provide physiological evidence for a complex interaction between the olfactory and motor systems.

PMID:35903786 | PMC:PMC9314567 | DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2022.943469


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