Moscow State University named after M.V.Lomonosov 

Psychological Department

Monosova Anna Joresovna

Study of emotional sphere by the way of odor assessment in normals and in patients with emotional dysfunction

Thesis Dissertation PH.D.(Psychol.)

Moscow, 1994

Dissertation work was carried out at the cathedra of neuro- and pathopsychology of Psychological Department of Moscow State University named after M.V.Lomonosov and in neurophysiologicallaboratory of Scientific Research Institute of psychiatry of Scientific Centre of Psychic Healthy Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.

Scientific Leader: Doctor of psychological sciences, Professor of Moscow State University Homskaya Evgenia Davidovna

Scientific Consultant:  Doctor of biological sciences Iznak Andrey Fedorovich

Official Opponents

Doctor of medical sciences, Professor Tamara Amplievna Dobrohotova,

PhD Kvasovec Sergey Valentinovich

The Leading Institution: The Psychological Institute of Russian Science Academy

Defense of the dissertation will take place at March 4th 1994, at the meeting of special council K-053.05.75. of Psychological department of Moscow State University.

Address: 103009, Moscow K-9, Mohovaya street, 8, b.5.

It is possible to become acquainted with the dissertation work in the library of Psychological Department of MSU.

Theses were sent outon January 25th 1994

Scientific secretary of special council           PhD V.V.Nikolaeva

Introduction and literature analysis

Dissertation work devoted to  emotional sphere analysis in normals and at patients with affective dysfunctions, using method of olfactory stimulation. 

Actuality of research. Emotions play great role in human's life, they serve as one of mechanisms of inner regulation of psychic and physiological processes, adaptive behavior; in the case of pathology emotions convert into disorganizing factor ( Gelgorn E.  Lufborrow D., 1966; Anohin P.K.  1964;  Izard K., 1980; Vilunas V.K., 1990). 

Affective disorders change perception and evaluation of incoming information, disturb adequacy of reactions,  decrease job efficiency. Due to all of this, study of emotional reactions at such diseases have specific importance. And affective disorders, which we can observe in  clinic of different psychic diseases,  give us the good model for study of emotional mechanisms at human being. 

In spite of existing a lot of clinical and experimental works, devoted to emotional disturbance when different psychic diseases, particularly when depression ( Polyakov U.F. et al, 1986, 1990; Melnicova T.S., 1992; Michailova E.S., 1985; Belyaev B.S., et al, 1990, and others), necessity of differential study of mechanisms of emotional disturbance  remains actual - including study from the position of brain lateral asymmetry.

Results of many researches ( Tucker D.M. et al., 1977; Diamond S.J., 1976., Nataly M., Gur., 1981; Renter-Lorenz P., Davidson R.J., 1981 and 1983; Cacioppo J., 1979; Drake R.A., 1984; Abernathy G.L., Schwartz G.E., 1979; Sviderskaya N.E., 1985 and others) shows  non identity in providing of emotional  phenomena by left and right hemispheres. Although both hemispheres ar included in emotional reactions - both in positive and in negative. 

One of the most important parameter of emotion - it's sign, positive or negative. Clinical and experimental data (Dobrohotova T.A., 1974; Natale M., Gur O., 1982; Bower G., 1981; Teasdal J., Russel M.L., 1983; Nasby W., Yando R., 1982; Martins D., 1985; Homskaya E.D., Batova N.Ya., 1992 ) allow to consider emotional sphere to be divided in two independent emotional systems - positive and negative. It's possible to suggest that they are connected with different brain structures. So, researches directed at evaluation of the role of different brain structures in providing of emotional reactions and conditions, are required. 

Odorants  were used as emotiogenic stimulation in this work. Olfactory stimulation  was used only in few works in psychology of emotions ( Kvasovez S.V., 1986; Klemperer W.R. et al., 1992; Kobal G., Hummel T., 1991). 

It is known that olfactory system is closely related with "emotional brain" and smelling is one of the most ancient kind of sensitivity (Graschenkov, 1955). According to Rubinstein's classification of emotions (Rubinstein S.L., 1946), there are three levels of emotions: the level of affective-emotional sensation, the level of subject feelings, and the level of generalized emotions. We can suggest, that olfactory stimulation appeals in the firsts of all to the first level. Besides, olfactory sensor system is the only which is not lateralized  - because of the specificity of anatomic substrate ( Voronkov G.S, 1990). It is significantly important for researching of laterality of emotional sensation. As well it is very useful that olfactory stimulus are little connected with cognitive sphere - because activity which is connected with cognitive sphere is accompanied with asymmetric changing of biopotential, especially with depression of alpha rhythm (Nava P.L., Butler S.R., 1977; Clare S., Souter S., 1983). 

In this way, the creation of the exact method, based on the olfactory stimulation, which allows to research emotional states as in healthy subjects, so in patients with affective disorders. 

Hypothesis and goals

On the base of literature analysis the hypothesis of research were formulated:

  1. Non verbal emotionally coloredolfactory stimulation can reveal specific features of emotional sphere in normal and when emotional dysfunctions.
  2. Emotional dysfunctions, which are revolve with the help of this method, are included in holisticsyndrome of both positive and negative emotional spheres disturbances.
  3. Positively and negatively emotionally colored olfactory stimulation addresses to different brain structures, and it can be revealed by the method of EEG-topographic mapping.

The goal of this work: complex study of emotional sphere of healthy subjects and patients with affective dysfunctions with the help of psychological and EEG-analysis of the reaction to emotionally colored odorants.

The following tasks were set to reach this goal:

  1. Design on the method for research of emotional sphere with the use of olfactory stimulation, approbation the method in healthy subjects, comparison of data, received with this method and results of other experimentally-psychological tests.
  2. The research of emotional sphere in patients with affective dysfunctions (depressive and hypomaniacal) with the olfactory stimulation method.
  3. The research ofbrain mechanisms of emotional reaction in healthy subjects with the method of topographic mappingof EEG-reactions to emotionally colored odorants.
  4. The research of brain mechanisms of emotional reaction in patients with depressive disorders with the method of topographic mapping of EEG-reactions to emotionally colored odorants.

So, this research is devoted to study of emotional sphere with the help of evaluation of odorants and analysis of EEG reaction to them in healthy subjects and in patients with polar disorders of emotional sphere: depression and hypomania.

Novelty of dissertation work is in using of olfactory stimulus, which appeal to the level of “sensation” andare little connected with cognitive processes; in application of complex – psychological and physiological -  approach to study of emotions; in using of neuropsychological concept of brain organization for research of brain disorders.

The practical value of work:

The method of evaluation of emotional sphere, allowing to study emotional state in normal and when psychic disorders was designed and tested. The materials of research are used in special curs “Pathology of emotions”, leaded at psychological department MSU by professor E.D.Homskaya.

There were published 13 scientific publications (and one in process), including 6 in foreign magazines.

The results of dissertation work were presented at:

  • the 3rd International Congress on Brain Electromagnetic Topography (ISBET). Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1992.
  • the 6th International Congress of Psychophysiology, Berlin, Germany, 2-6 September, 1992.
  • theInternational EEG/EP mapping meeting 1993. Warshaw, 1993.

Volume and structure of dissertation.

The work consists of introduction, observe of literature, description of method of research, experimental data, discussion, conclusions, list of used literature. Tre work is set out on the 146 pages, including 9 tables and 28 pictures. The list of used literature includes 121 publications (51 Russian, 70 foreign.


Analysis of results obtained allow to make following conclusions:

  1. The method of olfactory stimulation on the base of three odorants was created. These odorants possible to name "pleasant", "neutral", and "unpleasant" on the results of approbation in healthy subjects. The differences between men and women in the valuation of intensity was revealed, when coincidence in sign. There is as well concordance in issuer resulted with the help of the method "olfactory" stimulation and data of other psychological issues of emotional sphere in healthy subjects. It is possible to use the created method of olfactory stimulation for objective analysis of emotional sphere's state, for evaluation of positive and negative emotional spheres in Norma and when affective disorders. 
  2. Mostly higher activation of negative emotional sphere is observed at patients with depressive disorders. It manifested in overestimation of evaluation of intensity of "unpleasant" smells, understatement of emotional evaluation of "neutral" and "pleasant" smells and perversion of the sign of "pleasant" smell evaluation - when comparing with healthy subjects. Strengthening of mechanisms responsible for negative emotions was observed as in olfactory test, so in other methods. In the same time method of olfactory stimulation reveals as well oppression of positive emotional system in depressive patients, what was not revealed by another experimentally psychological tests. 
  3. The strengthening of positive emotional system and some oppression of positive one was observed in patients with hypomania. It was manifested in overestimating of emotional evaluation of odorants in comparison with healthy subjects. Increasing of sensibility as overestimating of evaluating of intensity of odorants was noted. Evaluations of negative odorants ware as well overestimated, but without change of sign - as at depressive patients. 
  4. EEG-reactions for "pleasant", "neutral" and "unpleasant" odorants were different at healthy subjects. It revealed I. Spectral composition and topography of answers. Activation of mostly frontal parts of the left hemispheric was specific reaction for the "pleasant" odorant (as increasing of spectral density of high density theta rhythm, depression of alpha rhythm, strong exaltation of beta rhythm in 14-16 Hrz diapason). Activation of mostly frontal parts of the right hemispheric was specific reaction for the "unpleasant" odorant (as exaltation of theta- and depression of alpha rhythms).  Some increasing of spectral density of theta rhythm and depression of alpha rhythm without lateral evidences were specific reactions for "neutral" odorant. In this way it is shown that olfactory stimulation with positive and negative emotional sign addresses to different brain structures. Reactions to emotionally colored odorants characterized by mostly involvement of frontal brain parts and hemispherical lateralization of answers. Activation of mostly frontal parts of right hemispheric was observed when "negative" emotional reaction, and activation of parts of left hemispheric - when "positive". 
  5. There were noted significant differences in EEG- reaction for odorants between healthy subjects and patients with depressive disorders. Differences were as in spectral composition, so in topography of answers. All odorants cause the exaltation, not the desynchronization of alpha rhythm. As well removal of reaction into  slower diapason, less than in healthy subjects lateralization of answers and less involvement of frontal parts in EEG-reaction were noted.