This study aimed to investigate the modulatory effect of olfactory cues on impression toward faces. Twelve Japanese university students participated in the experiment. Before the participants had arrived, the experimental room had been filled with one of three fragrances of fabric softener as the ambient odor, or with no odor. All participants were exposed to each of the four odor conditions on separate days. In the experimental room, participants viewed 20 photographs of Japanese female faces and evaluated their impression toward the faces. The brain activity from the frontal brain region was recorded with functional near-infrared spectroscopy. The fragrances enhanced an effeminate impression for the faces, but the effect was face-dependent. A positive relationship between the impression change induced by the fragrances and the activity of the right frontal brain was observed. These findings indicated that olfactory cues modulate face perception in a manner that cannot be explained by a mood effect, and that the frontal brain region is involved in the reconstruction process of the integrated impression of face and olfactory cues.
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