Growing evidence suggests that internal factors influence how we perceive the world. However, it remains unclear whether and how motivational states, such as hunger and satiety, regulate perceptual decision-making in the olfactory domain. Here, we developed a novel behavioral task involving mixtures of food and nonfood odors (i.e., cinnamon bun and cedar; pizza and pine) to assess olfactory perceptual decision-making in humans. Participants completed the task before and after eating a meal that matched one of the food odors, allowing us to compare perception of meal-matched and non-matched odors across fasted and sated states. We found that participants were less likely to perceive meal-matched, but not non-matched, odors as food dominant in the sated state. Moreover, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data revealed neural changes that paralleled these behavioral effects. Namely, odor-evoked fMRI responses in olfactory/limbic brain regions were altered after the meal, such that neural patterns for meal-matched odor pairs were less discriminable and less food-like than their non-matched counterparts. Our findings demonstrate that olfactory perceptual decision-making is biased by motivational state in an odor-specific manner and highlight a potential brain mechanism underlying this adaptive behavior.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)