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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2017 Sep;39(7):646-658. doi: 10.1080/13803395.2016.1253667. Epub 2016 Nov 20.

Association between olfaction and higher cortical functions in Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, and healthy older adults.

Author information

1
a Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences , University of Iowa , Iowa City , IA , USA.
2
b Department of Psychology , Louisiana State University , Baton Rouge , LA , USA.
3
c Department of Neurology , University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine , Iowa City , IA , USA.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Neural regions important for smell are proximal and closely connected to cortical areas that have been strongly implicated in higher order functions of value-based decision making and emotional memory. The integrity of these neural regions are affected in aging and neurodegenerative conditions. Two specific predictions follow from these neuroanatomical arrangements-namely, that olfaction would be associated with value-based decision making and with emotional memory.

METHOD:

To test these predictions, we measured these different capacities in participants with presumed varying degrees of integrity of the relevant brain structures: specifically, 13 patients with Alzheimer's disease, 8 patients with mild cognitive impairment, and 20 healthy older adults. The participants completed detailed tests of olfaction, value-based decision making, emotional memory, and general cognitive ability.

RESULTS:

Olfactory functioning was significantly associated with emotional and nonemotional memory. The association was especially strong and consistent for memory recall with olfaction, explaining as much as 10% additional variance over and above general cognition. Olfactory functioning was not strongly or consistently associated with decision making over and above general cognition.

CONCLUSION:

Olfaction is a strong predictor of memory recall. These findings may contribute to a better understanding of olfaction and specific cognitive domains known to be affected by aging and implicated in neurodegenerative disease.

KEYWORDS:

Decision making; Dementia; Emotions; Memory; Smell

PMID:
27868477
DOI:
10.1080/13803395.2016.1253667
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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