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Renée Visser

Renée Visser

L’Oreal-Unesco For Women in Science Fellow

Project title

The interplay of olfaction and emotional memory in conditions of health and disease

Project description

Most people believe that humans have a limited sense of smell compared to other animals, but this is incorrect. Our olfactory system is as developed as in other mammals. However, smell has received little attention in cognitive science, despite its significance in emotional learning, memory, and mental disorders.

Renée Visser aims to bridge this gap by integrating knowledge from various disciplines to understand the interplay between olfaction and emotional memory in human health and disease. Understanding emotional memory is essential for addressing psychological disorders, and research has shown the potential for modifying emotional memories. Olfaction research offers opportunities, as odor cues can be administered unobtrusively in natural environments for an extended period. This opens avenues for studying consolidation, retrieval, and modification of emotional memories with societal implications.

Selected publications

Freund, I.M., Peters. J., Kindt, M., & Visser, R.M. (2023). Emotional memory in the lab: Using the Trier Social Stress Test to induce a sensory-rich and personally meaningful episodic experience. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 105971.

Visser, R.M., Bathelt, J., Scholte, H.S., & Kindt M. (2021). Robust BOLD responses to faces but not to conditioned threat: challenging the amygdala’s reputation in human fear and extinction learning. Journal of Neuroscience, 41(50), 10278-10292. https://www.jneurosci.org/content/41/50/10278

Visser, R.M., Lau-Zhu, A., Henson, R., & Holmes, E.A. (2018). Multiple memory systems, multiple time points: How science can inform treatment to control the expression of unwanted emotional memories. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 373, 20170209.