Journal Article

Fitting Psychometric Functions Using a Fixed-Slope Parameter: An Advanced Alternative for Estimating Odor Thresholds With Data Generated by ASTM E679

Mei Peng, Sara R. Jaeger and Michael J. Hautus

in Chemical Senses

Volume 39, issue 3, pages 229-241
Published in print March 2014 | ISSN: 0379-864X
Published online December 2013 | e-ISSN: 1464-3553 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bjt073
Fitting Psychometric Functions Using a Fixed-Slope Parameter: An Advanced Alternative for Estimating Odor Thresholds With Data Generated by ASTM E679

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Psychometric functions are predominately used for estimating detection thresholds in vision and audition. However, the requirement of large data quantities for fitting psychometric functions (>30 replications) reduces their suitability in olfactory studies because olfactory response data are often limited (<4 replications) due to the susceptibility of human olfactory receptors to fatigue and adaptation. This article introduces a new method for fitting individual-judge psychometric functions to olfactory data obtained using the current standard protocol—American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E679. The slope parameter of the individual-judge psychometric function is fixed to be the same as that of the group function; the same-shaped symmetrical sigmoid function is fitted only using the intercept. This study evaluated the proposed method by comparing it with 2 available methods. Comparison to conventional psychometric functions (fitted slope and intercept) indicated that the assumption of a fixed slope did not compromise precision of the threshold estimates. No systematic difference was obtained between the proposed method and the ASTM method in terms of group threshold estimates or threshold distributions, but there were changes in the rank, by threshold, of judges in the group. Overall, the fixed-slope psychometric function is recommended for obtaining relatively reliable individual threshold estimates when the quantity of data is limited.

Keywords: 3AFC; ASTM E679; method of limits; olfactory; psychometric function; threshold

Journal Article.  8227 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Molecular and Cell Biology

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