It smells yellow, high and smooth: Associations with odour across the senses

People can easily associate information across the senses, so-called crossmodal associations. For example, many people would agree that the smell of lemon goes with the colour yellow, and that it goes better with a high pitch tone compared to a low pitch tone. However, it is not entirely clear how these associations arise. To investigate this in more detail, a new study conducted by NOSE researchers explored sensory associations in participants across a wide age range. The study took place in Science Museum Nemo in Amsterdam and consisted of three experiments assessing associations with pitch, tactile stimuli, and odours. In general few associations were observed in very young children, which suggests crossmodal associations are not something we are born with. Instead, associations seemed to increase with age. Overall the results suggest that crossmodal associations are learned over the lifespan, highlighting the crucial role of sensory experience.

To read more you can find the open access paper here:

Speed, L. J., Croijmans, I., Dolscheid, S., & Majid, A. (2021). Crossmodal Associations with Olfactory, Auditory, and Tactile Stimuli in Children and Adults. i-Perception, 12(6), 20416695211048513.

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