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Chem Senses. 2017 Dec 25;43(1):45-51. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjx067.

The Influence of Circadian Timing on Olfactory Sensitivity.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School, Brown University, USA.
2
E.P. Bradley Hospital Sleep Research Laboratory, USA.

Abstract

Olfactory sensitivity has traditionally been viewed as a trait that varies according to individual differences but is not expected to change with one's momentary state. Recent research has begun to challenge this position and time of day has been shown to alter detection levels. Links between obesity and the timing of food intake further raise the issue of whether odor detection may vary as a function of circadian processes. To investigate this question, 37 (21 male) adolescents (M age = 13.7 years) took part in a 28-h forced desynchrony (FD) protocol with 17.5 h awake and 10.5 h of sleep, for 7 FD cycles. Odor threshold was measured using Sniffin' Sticks 6 times for each FD cycle (total threshold tests = 42). Circadian phase was determined by intrinsic period derived from dim light melatonin onsets. Odor threshold showed a significant effect of circadian phase, with lowest threshold occurring on average slightly after the onset of melatonin production, or about 1.5○ (approximately 21:08 h). Considerable individual variability was observed, however, peak olfactory acuity never occurred between 80.5○ and 197.5○ (~02:22-10:10 h). These data are the first to show that odor threshold is differentially and consistently influenced by circadian timing, and is not a stable trait. Potential biological relevance for connections between circadian phase and olfactory sensitivity are discussed.

KEYWORDS:

adolescents; food intake; forced desynchrony; individual differences; odor threshold; trait-state

PMID:
29045623
PMCID:
PMC5863568
DOI:
10.1093/chemse/bjx067
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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