Is perceptual learning generalisable in the chemical senses? A longitudinal pilot study based on a naturalistic blind wine tasting training scenario

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Introduction: A growing body of research has demonstrated differences in perceptual, conceptual, and language abilities between wine experts and novices. However, it is unclear to what extent these differences are innate or acquired through training. The present study assessed the olfactory and gustatory performance of a group of university blind wine tasters before and after training. Previous research has shown that this training regimen significantly improves blind tasting accuracy, but it remains unknown whether perceptual learning from blind tasting training is generalisable to standard tests of olfactory/gustatory ability. Methods: Two testing sessions were carried out for the training group (N = 14) as well as for a control group (N = 12) before and after a 5-week training period. In each session, participants underwent olfactory threshold, discrimination, and identification assessments as well as a gustatory sensitivity test. Results: Olfactory discrimination significantly improved in the training group over the 5-week period, and the training group outperformed controls in olfactory identification in both sessions. Conclusions: Based on our limited set of data, wine training seems to have improved olfactory discrimination, even though the method of training did not involve odorants used in the discrimination test itself. Implications: These results reveal that even wine training over a short period seems to make concrete changes to olfactory performance, supporting the idea that generalised perceptual learning can take place for odour discrimination.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChemosensory Perception
Volume14
Issue2
Pages (from-to)64-74
Number of pages11
ISSN1936-5802
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

    Research areas

  • Gustatory sensitivity, Olfactory performance, Perceptual learning, Training, Wine expertise, EXPERTISE, RECOGNITION, IDENTIFICATION, NEURAL PLASTICITY, IMPACT, MEMORY, DISCRIMINATION, OLFACTORY PERFORMANCE, SOMMELIERS, IMPROVEMENT

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ID: 207030139