The newsletter of the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University

Olfaction Definition

Olfaction is the sense of smell. Olfaction deteriorates in the course of normal aging, as indicated by the fact that elderly people tend to do worse than younger people on tests such as naming a sample smell.

Olfaction impairment in Alzheimer's disease

Olfaction may also deteriorate rapidly in the course of Alzheimer's disease. This may be because the part of the brain responsible for processing smells (the olfactory cortex) is close to the hippocampus and other brain areas which show some of the earliest damage in Alzheimer's disease.

A recent study has suggested that abnormal performance on a smell test may be useful in early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

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by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain