Odors are powerful in bringing back old and vivid memories bearing emotional content. This inherent hedonic property of olfactory stimuli makes this sensory modality particularly suitable for studying autobiographical memory. In the present work, adolescents (first experiment), young adults (second experiment), and elderly (third experiment) of both sexes were asked to smell 10 familiar odorants and to report if these odorants evoked personal autobiographical memories or referential memories (i.e., names and objects). The participants were then required to link these memories to triplets of words using the progressive elaboration method of the Loci mnemonic. The aim of the study was to investigate whether 1) odorants evoking autobiographical memories led to faster reaction times (RTs) and to a greater number of correct responses in the recall of the items associated to such memories than do odorants evoking referential memories, 2) females differed from males on the above tasks along with the life span, and 3) the preferential codes (i.e., autobiographical or referential) attributed to the odorants vary according to gender and age. In general, it was observed that the way in which the odorants were encoded affected the subsequent retrieval. Indeed, data analyses have shown that odorants evoking autobiographical memories lead to faster RTs (experiments 2 and 3) and that females outperform males (experiments 1 and 2). However, these effects are greatly age and gender dependent. Furthermore, females are more prone than males to code the odorants autobiographically (as shown by the higher amount of autobiographical experiences that they have provided at all ages relative to males). Results are discussed in terms of developmental differences and odor-emotion links and the possible role of odors and autobiographical memory in learning and retrieval of other items.

Odor-evoked autobiographical memories: Age and gender differences along the life span

ZUCCO, GESUALDO;
2012

Abstract

Odors are powerful in bringing back old and vivid memories bearing emotional content. This inherent hedonic property of olfactory stimuli makes this sensory modality particularly suitable for studying autobiographical memory. In the present work, adolescents (first experiment), young adults (second experiment), and elderly (third experiment) of both sexes were asked to smell 10 familiar odorants and to report if these odorants evoked personal autobiographical memories or referential memories (i.e., names and objects). The participants were then required to link these memories to triplets of words using the progressive elaboration method of the Loci mnemonic. The aim of the study was to investigate whether 1) odorants evoking autobiographical memories led to faster reaction times (RTs) and to a greater number of correct responses in the recall of the items associated to such memories than do odorants evoking referential memories, 2) females differed from males on the above tasks along with the life span, and 3) the preferential codes (i.e., autobiographical or referential) attributed to the odorants vary according to gender and age. In general, it was observed that the way in which the odorants were encoded affected the subsequent retrieval. Indeed, data analyses have shown that odorants evoking autobiographical memories lead to faster RTs (experiments 2 and 3) and that females outperform males (experiments 1 and 2). However, these effects are greatly age and gender dependent. Furthermore, females are more prone than males to code the odorants autobiographically (as shown by the higher amount of autobiographical experiences that they have provided at all ages relative to males). Results are discussed in terms of developmental differences and odor-emotion links and the possible role of odors and autobiographical memory in learning and retrieval of other items.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/125630
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