Article | 06. 2016 Vol. 34, Issue. 3
Psychophysiological Effects of Orchid and Rose Fragrances on Humans

Department of Biosystems and Biotechnology, Korea University1
Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology2

2016.06. 472:487


This study aimed to determine the effects of floral fragrances on human brain waves and moods. A total of 44 subjects participated in this experiment. Group 1 consisted of 11 male and 14 female college students with a mean age of 24.5 years (± 2.23) and Group 2 consisted of 10 males and 9 females with a mean age of 54.3 years (± 2.98). Subjects were exposed to floral fragrances of Rosa hybrida , ‘Hera’ (hereafter referred to as “rose”), Cymbidium faberi(hereafter referred to as “orchid”), or odorless control flowers (hereafter referred to as “control”). Experiments took place in three rooms (rose, orchid, and control). Electroencephalographs (EEGs) were recorded during exposure to the odors and the data were processed using quantitative electroencephalographic (QEEG) techniques. The changing EEG patterns wereanalyzed by brain mapping and compressed spectral arrays, and the subjects’ preferences (hedonic evaluations) were quantified with an A1 index. Increased activation of absolute alpha waves was verified on six of the eight EEG channels, with the right frontal and left occipital lobes exhibiting no changes and the left parietal region showing the greatest activation. According to the QEEG measurements in the electrode sites over the frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes, the strongest absolute alpha waves were induced in the parietal lobes, followed by the temporal lobes, with the other lobes showing no significant changes. On brain maps, the orchid fragrance induced greater absolute alpha and absolute mid-beta activities compared with the rose and control fragrances, and the rose fragrance induced high absolute mid-beta activation. To identify emotional responses to floral fragrances, the subjects were requested to fill in a questionnaire and the resulting odor-related emotional descriptors were analyzed using semantic differential and factor analysis. Principal component analysis identified “elegant” as the first principal component describing the floral fragrance, followed by “refreshing” and “aromatic.” The subjects gave orchid higher scores for “elegant” and “refreshing,” while finding rose more “aromatic.” Differences in hedonic evaluation revealed by the A1 index appeared in the 65-115 sec range of scent exposure time. The subjects with ages of around 50 years showed olfactory preferences throughout the entire experimental time of 160 sec, most markedly in the later time segment (115-165 sec), showing an increasing preference with increasing exposure time. We conclude that rose fragrance can improve concentration by creating an aromatic environment conducive to a concentrated and calm state of mind, and orchid fragrance can make people feel pampered and relaxed by creating an elegant and refreshing environment.

1. Anna W (1995) High performance mind. New York, Tardier Putnam   

2. Brauchli P, R egg PB, Etzweiler F, Zeier H (1995) Electrocortical and autonomic alteration by administration of a pleasant and an unpleasant odor. Chem Senses 20:505-515. doi:10.1093/chemse/20.5.505  

3. Brodal A (1981) Neurological anatomy in relation to clinical medicine. Oxford University Press, New York, USA  

4. Buckle J (1999) Use of aromatherapy as a complementary treatment for chronic pain. Alt Ther Health Med 5:42-51   

5. Bushdid C, Magnasco M, Vosshall L, Keller A (2014) Humans can discriminate more than 1 trillion olfactory stimuli. Science 343:1370-1372. doi:10.1126/science.1249168  

6. Candau J, Jeanjean A (2006) Des odeurs ne pas regarder. Terrain 47:51-68. doi:10.4000/terrain.4251   

7. Chung SC, Min BC, Min BW, Kim SK, Oh JY, Kim YN, Kim CJ, Park SJ (1999) Correlation between real-time and off-time subjective assessments and physiological responses for visual picture stimulus. J Ergon Soc Korea 18:27-39  

8. Cohn R (1946) The influence of emotion on the human electroencephalogram. J Nerv Ment Dis 104:351-385. doi:10.1097/00005053-194610000-00001   

9. Diego MA, Jones NA, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C, Galamaga M, McAdam V, Galamaga R (1998) Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations. Int J Neurosci 96:217-224. doi:10.3109/00207459808986469  

10. Ehrlichman H, Halpern JN (1988) Affect and memory; Effects of pleasant and unpleasant odors on retrieval of happy and unhappy memories. J Abnorm Psychol Soc Psychol 55:769-779. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.55.5.769  

11. Ehrlichman H, Bastone L (1992) The use of odour in the study of emotion. The psychology and biology of perfume, London, pp 143-159   

12. Friborg O, Martinussen M, Rosenvinge JH (2006) Likert-based vs. semantic differential-based scorings of positive psychological constructs: A psychometric comparison of two versions of a scale measuring resilience. Pers Ind Diff 40:873-884. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2005.08.015  

13. Hsiao YU, Jeng MF, Tsai WC, Chuang YC, Li CY, Wu TS, Kuoh CS, Chen WH, Chen HH (2008) A novel homodimeric geranyl diphosphate synthase from the orchid Phalaenopsis bellina lacking a DD(X)2-4D motif. Plant J 55:719-733. doi:10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03547.x  

14. Homan RW, Herman J, Purdy P (1987) Cerebral location of international 10-20 system electrode replacement. Planmotif Plannf Plannmotif Plansis Clin Neurophysiol 66:376-382  

15. Hummel T, Kobal G, Gudziol H, Mackay-Sim A (2007) Normative data for the “Sniffin Sticks” including tests of odor identification, odor discrimination, and olfactory thresholds: an upgrade based on a group of more than 3,000 subjects. Arch Oto-Rhino-Laryngol 264:237-243. doi:10.1007/s00405-006-0173-0  

16. Hutchison M (1996) Megabtain: New tools and techniques for brain growth and mind expansion 2nd ed. Ballantine Books, New York   

17. Jasper HH (1936) Cortical excitatory state and variability in human brain rhythms. Science 83:259-260. doi:10.1126/science.83.2150.259  

18. Jo H, Rodiek S, Fujii E, Miyazaki Y, Park BJ, Ann SW (2013) Physiological and psychological response to floral scent. Hortic Sci 48:82-88  

19. Jung KM (2005) Transition process of plum, orchid, chrysanthemum and bamboo the four gracious plants on books. Master Diss, Jungang Univ, Seoul, Korea  

20. Kendal-Reed M, Van-Toller S (1992) Brain electrical activity mapping: an exploratory study of infant response to odours. Chem Senses 17:765-777. doi:10.1093/chemse/17.6.765  

21. Kim SM, Jang EJ, Pak CH (2011) The effect of culture cymbidium goeringii on the emotion of orchid hobbyists. J. Korean Soc People Plants Environ 14:147-153  

22. Klemm W, Lutes S, Hendrix D, Warrenburg S (1992) Topographical EEG maps of human responses to odors. Chem Senses 17:347-361. doi:10.1093/chemse/17.3.347  

23. Kline JP, Blackhart GC, Woodward KM, Williams SR, Schwartz GE (2000) Anterior electroencephalographic asymmetry changes in elderly women in response to a pleasant and an unpleasant odor. Biol Psychol 52:241-250. doi:10.1016/S0301-0511(99)00046-0  

24. Laerhoven HV, Zaag-Loonen HJV, Derkx B (2004) A comparison of Likert scale and visual analogue scales as response options in children’s questionnaires. Acta Paediatr 93:830-835. doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2004.tb03026.x   

25. Lee ER (2006) Orchid. Jongienara, Korea  

26. Lee SM (1983) The study on origin and early pattern in a china-ink painting that depicts bamboos. Art His Assoc, Korea 157:2-17   

27. Liu M, Kim E, Mattson R (2003) Physiological and emotional influences of cut flower arrangements and lavender fragrance on university students. J Therap Hortic 14:18-27   

28. Lorig TS, Herman KB, Schwartz GE, Cain WS (1990) EEG activity during administration of low-concentration odors. Bull Psychonomic Soc 28:405-408. doi:10.3758/BF03334051  

29. Martin GN (1998) Human electroencephalographic (EEG) response to olfactory stimulation: Two experiments using the aroma of food. Int J Psychophysiol 30:287-302. doi:10.1016/S0167-8760(98)00025-7  

30. Min BC, Chung SC, Kim SH, Oh JY, Kim HJ, Kim SJ, Kim YN, Shin JS, Min BW, Kim CJ, Park SJ (1999) The assessment of odors using EEG and automatic responses. Korean J Sci Emotion Sensibility 2:1-10  

31. Nakagawa M, Nagai H, Inui T (1992) Evaluation of drowsiness by EEGs-Odors controlling drowsiness. Fragrance J 20:68-68  

32. Niedermeyer E, Silva FL (2004) Electroencephalography: Basic principles, clinical applications, and related fields. Lippincot Williams &Wilkins, Philadelphia, PA  

33. Oosawa T, Hirano Y, Tonosaki K (2000) Electroencephalographic study of odor responses in the domestic fowl. Physiol Behav 71: 203-205. doi:10.1016/S0031-9384(00)00309-7  

34. Osgood CE, Suci GJ, Tannenbaum PH (1957) The measurement of meaning. University of Illinois Press Urbana, USA   

35. Orne MT, Weiss T, Callaway E, Stroebel CF (1979) Report of the task force on biofeedback of the American Psychiatric Association. American Psychiatric Association, Washington DC, pp 57-98   

36. Park SH, Mattson RH (2008) Effects of flowering and foliage plants in hospital rooms on patients recovering from abdominal surgery. Hortic Technol 18:563-568  

37. Peter B, Peter BR, Franz BE, Hans Z (1995) Electrocortical and autonomic alteration by administration of pleasant and an unpleasant odor. Chem Senses 20:505-515. doi:10.1093/chemse/20.5.505  

38. Ray WJ, Cole H (1985) EEG alpha activity reflects attentional demands, and beta activity reflects emotional and cognitive processes. Science 228:263-273. doi:10.1126/science.3992243  

39. Rouby C, Pouliot S, Bensafi M (2009) Odor hedonics and their modulators. Food Quality Preference 20:545-549. doi:10.1016/j.foodqual.2009.05.004  

40. Royet JP, Koenig O, Gregoire MC, Cinotti L, Lavenne F, Le-Bars D, Costes N, Vigouroux M, Farget V, Sicard G (1999) Functional anatomy of perceptual and semantic processing for odors. J Cognit Neurosci 11:94-109. doi:10.1162/089892999563166  

41. Ryoko M, Matsuda T, Kikuchi Y, Miyazaki Y, Iwanaga K, Harada H, Kasuura T (2000) Effect of inhalation of essential oils on EEG activity and sensory evaluation. J Physiol Anthropol 19:35-42. doi:10.2114/jpa.19.35  

42. Sawada K, Koyama E, Kubota M, Hayashi I, Komari R, Inui M, Torii S (1992) Effects of odors on EEG relaxation and alpha power. Chem Senses 17:88  

43. Schacter DL (1977) EEG theta waves and physiological phenomena: A review and analysis. Biol Psychol 5:47-82. doi:10.1016/0301-0511(77)90028-X  

44. Shepherd GM (2004) The human sense of smell: Are we better than we think? PLoS Biol 2: e146. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020146  

45. Son KC, JS. Lee, JE Song (1998) Effect of visual recognition of indoor plants on changes of human brain electroencephalography. J Kor Soc Hort Sci 39:858-862  

46. Subha DP, Joseph PK, Acharya UR, Lim CM (2010) EEG signal analysis: A survey. J Med Syst 34:195-212. doi:10.1007/s10916-008-9231-z  

47. Sugano H (1989) Psychophysiological studies on odors. Int J Psychophysiol 7: 401-402. doi:10.1016/0167-8760(89)90334-6  

48. Van-Toller S, Behan J, Howells P, Kendal-Reed M, Richardson A (1993) An analysis of spontaneous human cortical EEG activity to odours. Chem Senses 18:1-16. doi:10.1093/chemse/18.2.226  

49. Vernon D, Frick A, Gruzelier J (2004) Neurofeedback as a treatment of ADHD: A methodological review with implications for future research. J Neurother 8:53-82. doi:10.1300/J184v08n02_04