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Neurobiol Aging. 1988 Jul-Aug;9(4):399-403.

Olfactory tests as possible probes for detecting and monitoring Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Psychobiology, University of California, Irvine 92717.


One of the characteristics of Alzheimer's disease is the early loss of neurons in pathways involved in processing olfactory information. Olfactory function was assessed in subjects with Alzheimer's disease using a conventional Smell Identification Test and a simple three odor match-to-sample problem. The patients exhibited a diminished capacity to identify common odors but were severely impaired in their ability to use novel odors in a match-to-sample task. Subjects with Parkinson's disease had a severe deficit for identifying common odors with the majority scoring as anosmic. Multiple sclerosis was not accompanied by detectable changes in olfactory functioning. The results of the Alzheimer's group are similar to recent animal studies that have shown lesions of the piriform-entorhinal cortex produce a variety of memory deficits that are particularly acute in tasks involving novel odors.

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