Emotional self-body odors do not influence the access to visual awareness by emotional faces

Marta Rocha*, Joana Grave, Sebastian Korb, Valentina Parma, Gün R. Semin, Sandra C. Soares

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    A growing body of research suggests that emotional chemosignals in others’ body odor (BO), particularly those sampled during fearful states, enhance emotional face perception in conscious and preconscious stages. For instance, emotional faces access visual awareness faster when presented with others’ fear BOs. However, the effect of these emotional signals in self-BO, that is, one’s own BO, is still neglected in the literature. In the present work, we sought to determine whether emotional self-BOs modify the access to visual awareness of emotional faces.Thirty-eight women underwent a breaking-Continuous Flash Suppression task in which they were asked to detect fearful, happy, and neutral faces, as quickly and accurately as possible, while being exposed to their fear, happiness, and neutral self-BOs. Self-BOs were previously collected and later delivered via an olfactometer, using an event-related design. Results showed a main effect of emotional faces, with happy faces being detected significantly faster than fearful and neutral faces. However, our hypothesis that fear self-BOs would lead to faster emotional face detection was not confirmed, as no effect of emotional self-BOs was found—this was confirmed with Bayesian analysis. Although caution is warranted when interpreting these results, our findings suggest that emotional face perception is not modulated by emotional self-BOs, contrasting with the literature on others’ BOs. Further research is needed to understand the role of self-BOs in visual processing and emotion perception.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number49
    Number of pages10
    JournalChemical Senses
    Early online date29 Aug 2023
    Publication statusPublished - 2024


    • emotion
    • face perception
    • olfaction
    • self-body odors
    • visual awareness


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