Wheeling Jesuit Researchers Present Findings on Scent-Behavior Link
Research from Wheeling Jesuit University on the relationship between odors and human behavior is once again generating interest across the country.
Bryan Raudenbush, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, recently completed a research review on the effects of peppermint, and he and two Wheeling Jesuit students presented their findings on cinnamon’s effects at a national conference in late April.
The Sense of Smell Institute, a leading global resource relating to the sense of smell and its importance, commissioned Raudenbush’s review to determine whether anecdotal references to the beneficial effects of peppermint have been substantiated by scientific research.
He found several studies confirming that peppermint can improve the quality of life for many people through enhancing mental and athletic performance, cognitive functioning, digestive processes and pain tolerance.
Included in the review was Raudenbush’s study that showed peppermint’s ability to reduce perceived physical workload, temporal workload, effort and frustration in athletes. Study participants also rated their level of vigor higher and level of fatigue lower in the peppermint condition.
In the review’s conclusion, Raudenbush notes that experimental evidence and scientific interest on the beneficial effects of peppermint are growing.
“With peppermint's ability to enhance both cognitive and athletic performance, most likely a variety of new products will soon be marketed which capitalize on the all-natural, non-pharmaceutical properties of peppermint. Research will begin examining the effectiveness of peppermint-based analgesics for mild to moderate pain reactions."
In addition, Wheeling Jesuit University was well represented at the 26th annual meeting of The Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AchemS) held in late April.
“We presented our newest work on peppermint and athletic performance, jasmine during cool-down and recovery from physical activity, and cinnamon to augment memory,” says Raudenbush.
Students Phillip Zoladz of Belmont, Ohio, and Sarah Lilley of Wheeling, W.Va., along with Raudenbush, shared their findings on the relationship between cinnamon and human behavior.
Zoladz received a $1,000 grant from Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology, to fund the project.
Results revealed a task-dependent relationship between odors and the enhancement of cognitive processing. In particular, the researchers found that cinnamon improved participants' scores on tasks related to attentional processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor response speed.
Implications of the study could lead to a non-pharmacological adjunct to enhancing the quality of life for the elderly, aiding individuals with test-anxiety and possibly even benefiting patients with diseases that lead to cognitive decline.
Raudenbush also presented a poster assessing the effects of peppermint odor on athletes. In his study, he found increased motivation, energy, speed, alertness, reaction time, confidence and strength among athletes who used a special inhaler.
Participants reported lower levels of fatigue and frustration, while ratings of overall performance and competitive advantage over opponents were enhanced.
The research led to the Peak Performance Sports Inhaler, an all-natural, non-pharmacological aid to enhance athletic performance. More information about the product is available at www.sportsinhaler.com.
The AchemS meeting took place in Sarasota, Fla., April 21 – 25.
Wheeling Jesuit University integrates the Jesuit traditions of intellectual excellence with the best of advanced technology to help students develop lives of service, success and significance. The University's mission is to educate students for life, for leadership, and for service with and among others. U.S.News & World Report ranks Wheeling Jesuit University 16th in the "Best Master’s Universities in the South," making it the highest ranked institution in West Virginia for the seventh consecutive year. Wheeling Jesuit--the only Catholic institution of higher education in West Virginia--offers more than 30 undergraduate programs of study and six graduate degrees to about 1,500 students each year. It has a student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1, and 17 intercollegiate NCAA Division II athletic teams. The 65-acre campus located in Wheeling, W.Va., includes 15 modern buildings, multi-million dollar Acker Science Center, and residence halls, and a modern recreation and athletic facility that includes a soccer/track and field complex. The campus is home to the Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center, the Erma Ora Byrd Center for Educational Technologies, a Challenger Learning Center and the Clifford M. Lewis Appalachian Institute.
To arrange a visit of the Wheeling Jesuit University campus, or to apply, call 1-800-624-6992 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Wheeling Jesuit online at www.wju.edu.