Responsiveness to Olfactory Stimuli Presented in Sleep
Whether humans react to olfactory stimuli presented in sleep was assessed. Responses of ten participants (mean age = 22.8 years) were recorded to repeated three-minute periods of either air alone or to a peppermint odor (0.26 mg/liter) during stage 2 sleep. These responses included behavioral (awakening, microswitch closure), autonomic (heart rate, EMG, respiration), and central (EEG) components. An odor delivery system is described comprised of an aquarium pump, Teflon and TYGON tubing, oxygen mask, filtering, and air flow valves. The data indicate that humans react behaviorally, autonomically and centrally to olfactory stimuli presented while sleeping. Although the percentage of overall responsivity to olfactory stimuli was low, significant differences (ANOVA) in responsivity to odor periods vs. nonodor periods were found for microswitch closures, EEG, EMG, and heart rate. For these measures eight or more of the ten participants showed this pattern of differential responsivity during odor and nonodor periods (Sign test = p<0.05). A time-of-night effect was also observed in that responsivity tended to be greatest early in the night. The effect on responsivity of other durations, concentrations, and odors requires additional research.
Physiology and Behavior
(1990). Responsiveness to Olfactory Stimuli Presented in Sleep. Physiology and Behavior, 48(1), 87-90.
Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/7412