Taste in dementing diseases and parkinsonism

J Neurol Sci. 2006 Oct 25;248(1-2):177-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2006.05.020. Epub 2006 Jun 12.


Like with many sensory abilities a reduction of taste and smell occurs during aging. Since there are hints to an additional reduction in dementing diseases, we assessed 52 patients, 26 women and 26 men, who were presented to a memory clinic, using the Sniffin' Sticks, Whole Mouth and Taste Strip Tests. While smoking, alcohol consumption, intake of drugs and sex exerted only minor impact, age and the severity of cognitive impairment were of major importance. There was a moderate but significant correlation between the severity of dementia, taste and smell, even if the age effect was partialled out. Notably, patients with Parkinson syndrome showed worse taste and smell abilities than those without. Here the differences were indeed marked enough to play a possible role in making the diagnosis. This exploratory study confirms a mild reduction of gustatory function in dementing diseases over and beyond that of normal aging which--in addition to a reduction of smell--seems to be especially marked in Parkinson syndromes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Olfaction Disorders / physiopathology
  • Olfaction Disorders / psychology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Taste / physiology*