Categorical Dimensions of Human Odor Descriptor Space Revealed by Non-Negative Matrix Factorization

Jason B. Castro, Arvind Ramanathan, Chakra S. Chennubhotla, Andreas Schaefer
2013 PLoS ONE  
In contrast to most other sensory modalities, the basic perceptual dimensions of olfaction remain unclear. Here, we use nonnegative matrix factorization (NMF) -a dimensionality reduction technique -to uncover structure in a panel of odor profiles, with each odor defined as a point in multi-dimensional descriptor space. The properties of NMF are favorable for the analysis of such lexical and perceptual data, and lead to a high-dimensional account of odor space. We further provide evidence that
more » ... or dimensions apply categorically. That is, odor space is not occupied homogenously, but rather in a discrete and intrinsically clustered manner. We discuss the potential implications of these results for the neural coding of odors, as well as for developing classifiers on larger datasets that may be useful for predicting perceptual qualities from chemical structures.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073289 pmid:24058466 pmcid:PMC3776812 fatcat:zazmlsxqjbfgnnygxbxqdob7um