Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Odours are important in emotional processing; yet relatively little is known about the representations of the affective qualities of odours in the human brain. We found that three pleasant and three unpleasant odours activated dissociable parts of the human brain. Pleasant but not unpleasant odours were found to activate a medial region of the rostral orbitofrontal cortex. Further, there was a correlation between the subjective pleasantness ratings of the six odours given during the investigation with activation of a medial region of the rostral orbitofrontal cortex. In contrast, a correlation between the subjective unpleasantness ratings of the six odours was found in regions of the left and more lateral orbitofrontal cortex. Moreover, a double dissociation was found with the intensity ratings of the odours, which were not correlated with the BOLD signal in the orbitofrontal cortex, but were correlated with the signal in medial olfactory cortical areas including the pyriform and anterior entorhinal cortex. Activation was also found in the anterior cingulate cortex, with a middle part of the anterior cingulate activated by both pleasant and unpleasant odours, and a more anterior part of the anterior cingulate cortex showing a correlation with the subjective pleasantness ratings of the odours. Thus the results suggest that there is a hedonic map of the sense of smell in brain regions such as the orbitofrontal cortex, and these results have implications for understanding the psychiatric and related problems that follow damage to these brain areas.


Journal article


Eur J Neurosci

Publication Date





695 - 703


Brain, Brain Mapping, Cerebrovascular Circulation, Emotions, Entorhinal Cortex, Female, Frontal Lobe, Gyrus Cinguli, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Odorants, Olfactory Pathways, Oxygen, Philosophy, Smell