Depth of olfactory sulcus and olfactory function

Brain Res. 2003 Jun 13;975(1-2):85-9. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(03)02589-7.


The aim of this study was to identify whether the depth of the olfactory sulcus relates to olfactory function in healthy subjects. Forty-four healthy, male volunteers (age range 22-45 years, mean age 28.3 years) were included in this study. Olfactory function was measured for phenyl ethyl alcohol odor thresholds, odor discrimination, and odor identification. Magnetic resonance imaging of the olfactory sulcus was performed immediately following olfactometry. Based on previous investigations the depth of the olfactory sulcus was measured in the plane of the posterior tangent through the eyeballs. Olfactory function correlated significantly with left-sided depth of the olfactory sulcus (r(44)=0.33, P=0.03); no such correlation was seen for the right side. In addition, olfactory sulcus depth was found to be significantly deeper on the right compared to the left side (t=5.61, P<0.001). The present results suggest that there is small, but significant relation between morphological brain structures and measures of olfactory function. Further, lateralization of olfactory sulcus depth may correlate to functional lateralization in the olfactory system. Thus, it may be carefully speculated that sensory input in the olfactory system results in cortical growth in the area of the olfactory sulcus, at least at some developmental stage.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nasal Cavity / physiology
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Smell / physiology*


  • Phenylethyl Alcohol