The exposure-driven olfactory compensation associated with sensory loss is likely to be observed in assessment of food-related dangers. Therefore, in the current study we tested the hypothesis that olfactory compensation occurs in the case of protection from food-related hazards. We compared thresholds for detection of an unpleasant rotten food odor (fermented fish sauce) in four groups of subjects: blind subjects (n=100), sighted controls (n=100), deaf subjects (n=74) and hearing controls (n=99). Overall, we observed no significant differences in smell acuity between the blind and deaf groups and their matched control samples. However, the sensory deprived subjects assessed their sensitivity as higher than did control groups. The present study is yet another example of research among large samples of sensory deprived individuals that shows no evidence of olfactory compensation. This result is consistent with a growing number of studies suggesting no sensory compensation in simple, absolute sensitivity tasks.
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