Data_Sheet_1_The Design Matters: How to Detect Neural Correlates of Baby Body Odors.docx

Functional magnetic resonance imaging of body odors is challenging due to methodological obstacles of odor presentation in the scanner and low intensity of body odors. Hence, few imaging studies investigated neural responses to body odors. Those differ in design characteristics and have shown varying results. Evidence on central processing of baby body odors has been scarce but might be important in order to detect neural correlates of bonding in mothers. A suitable paradigm for investigating perception of baby body odors has still to be established. We compared neural responses to baby body odors in a new to a conventional block design in a sample of ten normosmic mothers. For the new short design, 6 s of continuous odor presentation were followed by 19 s baseline and 13 repetitions were performed. For the conventional long design, 15 s of pulsed odor presentation were followed by 30 s of baseline and eight repetitions were performed. Neural responses were observed in brain structures related to basal and higher-order olfactory processing, such as insula, orbitofrontal cortex, and amygdala. Neural responses following the short design were significantly higher in comparison to the long design. This effect was based on higher number of repetitions but affected olfactory areas differently. The BOLD signal in the primary olfactory structures was enhanced by short and continuous stimulation, secondary structures did profit from longer stimulations with many repetitions. The short design is recommended as a suitable paradigm in order to detect neuronal correlates of baby body odors.