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 were analyzed 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.
- A1 index
- Electroencephalographic (EEG)
- Floral fragrance
ASJC Scopus subject areas