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Terry Acree

Terry Acree


127 Stocking Hall
(315) 521-2158

Terry Acree`s laboratory is interested in how stimulant composition is represented in perception. A seemingly infinite number of perceptions are invoked by less than 1000 odorants found in the human sensory environment. Mediated by sensory neurons expressing a given receptor these odorants generate neural excitation in the brain that is a topographic map of sensory information. Recent literature suggest that olfactory receptor expression is highly variant in the human population and that this may explain the functional variation in taste and olfaction that has been observed for decades. Understanding the relationship between stimulant composition and perception is therefore central to understanding the representation of chemical information in the brain and the impact of genetic diversity on the perception of food.

Research Focus

An internal representation of the external world is created in the brain of all eukaryotes by a mechanism that detects chemicals in the environment and transmit this information to the brain, where it is processed to create, at least in humans, perceptions. This sensory representation of the external chemical world in the brain is a translation of stimulus features into a neural sensory map. It is the nature of this sensory map: how it is established by stimulant patterns, how it varies in a population, and ultimately how it modulates other brain functions, e.g. emotions (joy) or behavior (buying wine), that is the goal of our research. Over the years Terry and his students have developed a selective and sensitive bio-assay for smell based on gas chromatography - olfactometry (GCO) called CharmAnalysis that, along with other forms of chromatography, spectrometry, and sensory analysis, are used to study food quality.

Starting with Gas Chromatography Olfactometry we analyzed the most potent odorants in foods in order to understand how flavor perception works in humans. Reciently, we have developed a new tool the Sniff Olfactometer (SO) to study the perception of odorants in mixtures. We have confirmed that odor images are formed from a small subset of "Key" odorants during the first 100 ms after an encounter. Using Psychophysical experiments involving the SO and key odorants from foods we are studying the temporal effects of odorant mixtures on odor image formation and relating response to hedonic state. We intend to create tools and knowledge that improves food quality, to stimulate more effective culinary, but most of all to create knowledge that will give consumers the power to change their preferences, improve their health and to enhance their quality of life.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Food producers, cooks, and consummers want to understand how flavor chemistry impacts their profits or how flavor is formed or what pleasure is produced during eating. Our outreach gives people tools, e.g. identifies the chemicals that determine flavor, explains how flavor affects choice and proposes processes to manipulate it.

Teaching Focus

My teaching strives to present good explanations of the sensory and psychological responses to food chemicals. Lectures emphasize the connections between chemical stimulants and sensory responses and are accompanied with experiences (taste, smell, visual) that exemplify the explanations.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

  • Firestein, S. E., Poivet, E., Tahirova, N., Peterlin, Z., Xu, L., Zou, D., & Firestein, S. (2018). Functional odor classification through a medicinal chemistry approach. Science Advances. 4:1-10.
  • Acree, T. E., Kurtz, A. J., Wyckoff, S. G., Charrier, A., & Riehling, P. (2016). Multisensory Olfactometer Programmable in PsychoPy. Chemosensory Perception.
  • Kurtz, A. J., Barnard, J., Wyckoff, S. G., & Acree, T. E. (2015). The Effect of Figure and Color Congruency on Olfactory Performance. Chemosensory Perception.
  • Acree, T. E., Charrier, A., & Wyckoff, S. G. (2015). Validation of a High Throughput Olfactometer. PLOS Biology.
  • Acree, T. E., Barnard, J., & Kurtz, A. J. (2011). Mixture Perception of rORI7 Agonists with Similar Odors. Chemosensory Perception. 4:91-98.
  • Kurtz, A. J., Lawless, H. T., & Acree, T. E. (2010). The Cross-Adaptation of Green and Citrus Odorants. Chemosensory Perception. 3:149-155.
  • Kurtz, A. J., Acree, T. E., & Lawless, H. T. (2009). Reference Matching of Dissimilar Binary Odor Mixtures. Chemosensory Perception. 2:186-194.
  • Williams, R. C., Satre, E., Parisot, F., Kurtz, A. J., & Acree, T. E. (2009). A Gas Chromatograph-Pedestal Olfactometer (GC-PO) for the Study of Odor Mixtures. Chemosensory Perception. 2:173-179.
  • Acree, T. E., & Kurtz, A. J. (2008). Cross adaptation of green odors with OR-I7 agonists. Chemical Senses. 33:S125.
  • De Souza, M. D., Vasquez, P., Del Mastro, N. L., Acree, T. E., & Lavin, E. H. (2006). Characterization of cachaca and rum aroma. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 54:485-488.

Presentations and Activities

  • Decoding Odor Mixture Perception. 10th Wartburg Symposium. April 2014. Wartburg Symposium. Wartburg Germany.
  • Introducing The Finger Lakes Region: Where NY State Wines Are Born. Introducing Finger Lakes Wines to Singapore. December 2013. The Wine Mansion. Singapore.
  • Discrete Mathematic Analysis of the Dravnieks and Flavornet data bases. Defining Human odorspace. September 2013. Wolkswagan. Hanover germany.
  • Experiencing Riesling Flavor. The Riesling Experience. June 2013. Brock University . St Catherines Ontario.
  • Painting Flavor, The modulation of odor perception by vision. American Chemical Society - Annual Meeting. April 2013. American Chemical Society -AGFD. New Orleans.
  • Flavor Chemistry in the Future. FEMA National Meeting. October 2011. Flavor Extract Manufacturers Association. New Port, NJ.
  • The perception of Riesling varietal character: the role of 2,2,1-trimethy-dihydronapthalene (TDN). Weurman Flavor Science Symposium. September 2011. Ad Hoc committee. Zaragoza, Spain.
  • The Impact of Vision on Odor Perception. Pangborn International Sensory Science Conference. September 2011. Ad Hoc Committee. Toronto, CA.
  • The Impact of Vision on Odor Perception. Pangborn International Sensory Science Conference. September 2011. Ad Hoc Committee. Toronto, CA.
  • Flavor Chemistry. Menu Research Board Meeting. May 2011. Culinary Institute of America. Geneva Office - Skype Meeting.