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Abstract

Plant essential oils (EO) are used as perfumes, lotions and air fresheners because of their pleasant aromas, but EO also have the ability to elicit changes in mood and behavior. These activities are influenced by the mode of administration and by multiple signaling pathways. The EO aromas from organically grown apple mint (Mentha suaveolens) and passionflower fruit (Passiflora incarnata) were assessed for their effects on cognition and coordination. Participants completed two tasks designed to test working memory and bimanual task efficiency in rooms infused with apple mint, passionflower fruit or control EO. Bimanual coordination was assessed using the Intercept2 program and the Memory Span component of CogLab 2.0 was utilized as a test of working memory. Then, the EO were analyzed by GC-MS, resulting in the identification of several compounds with affinity towards olfactory receptors and neurotransmitter systems. For specific memory subtests within CogLab, EO from apple mint aided number recall, whereas passionflower fruit hindered recall of numbers and letters that sound similar. Passionflower fruit EO slightly enhanced bimanual task coordination. The results indicate that specific aromas may differentially affect task performance.

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