Relation of olfactory event-related potentials to changes in stimulus concentration
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of odorant concentration on the olfactory event-related potential (OERP). Design and Methods: OERP were evaluated in 8 men and 8 women (17–34 years of age) in response to 4 concentrations of vanillin (7, 28, 56 and 84% v/v). Sixteen presentations of each concentration (stimulus duration 200 ms, interval 40 s, flow 8 l/min) were applied in a randomized order. EEG recordings were made at 3 midline sites (pos. Fz, Cz, Pz). Amplitudes and latencies of four peaks were measured (latencies in ms at Pz after stimulation with 84% v/v vanillin): P1 (277), N1 (348), P2 (412) and P3 (496). Statistical analysis was performed with MANOVAs (`concentration', `recording site'=within-subject-factors; `age' as covariate). Results: With increasing stimulus concentration amplitudes became significantly larger; this was most pronounced for P3 (P1N1: F=2.90, P<0.05; N1P2: F=5.15, P<0.01; N1P3: F=35.7, P<0.001; P3: F=38.6; P<0.001). Correspondingly, latencies shortened with increasing concentrations (P1: F=25.2; N1: 17.51; P2: 14.8; P3: 13.4; all P<0.001). While there was no correlation between OERP amplitudes and butanol odor detection thresholds, latencies were the shorter the lower the subjects' thresholds (coefficients of correlations for peak latencies at Cz for 84% v/v: P1 r15=minus0.59; N1 r15=minus0.58; P2 r15=minus0.55; P3 r15=minus0.45). Conclusions: The results indicated that both OERP amplitudes and latencies are related to the concentration of olfactory stimuli. They also suggested that latencies exhibit a stronger relation to changes in stimulus intensity compared to OERP amplitudes.