Journal Article

Shared Retronasal Identifications of Vapor-phase 18-Carbon Fatty Acids

Tariq Chukir, Richard B. Darlington and Bruce P. Halpern

in Chemical Senses

Volume 38, issue 4, pages 343-353
Published in print May 2013 | ISSN: 0379-864X
Published online February 2013 | e-ISSN: 1464-3553 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bjt005
Shared Retronasal Identifications of Vapor-phase 18-Carbon Fatty Acids

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The long-chain 18-carbon fatty acids linoleic, oleic, and stearic acids, retronasally in vapor phase, are discriminated from blanks and each other. However, ability to linguistically identify them was unknown. To explore this, a Focus Group and then Check-All-That-Apply measures gave 9 identifiers for the 3 fatty acids plus phenylethyl alcohol (PEA) and geraniol. Next, participants selected 1 of the 9 identifiers from a computer-based display. It was found that the modal identification for linoleic acid was 23% “Rubbery” (next 18% “Oily” and “New Plastic”), oleic acid was 21% Oily (next 19% Rubbery), and stearic acid was 43% Rubbery (next 22% New Plastic), but linoleic acid received ~40% food-related identifiers. Geraniol was 96% “Lemon,” and PEA was 67% “Flowers.” Identifications for fatty acids differed significantly (P ≤ 0.05) from those for geraniol for most participants (86%) and from those for PEA for 59% of participants. Stearic acid identifications differed significantly from those for linoleic and oleic acids for 32% of participants. However, identification for linoleic acid differed significantly from those for oleic acid for only 14% of participants. Overall, retronasal vapor-phase stearic acid was identified differently from other 18-carbon fatty acids by a substantial minority of participants, but linoleic and oleic acids were not, suggesting that these 2 vapor-phase 18-carbon fatty acids can be identified retronasally as a group but not separately.

Keywords: fatty acids; linoleic; oleic; retronasal; smell; stearic

Journal Article.  8157 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Molecular and Cell Biology

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