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, 17 (2), 382-91

Olfactory Sensitivity: Reliability, Generality, and Association With Aging

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Olfactory Sensitivity: Reliability, Generality, and Association With Aging

W S Cain et al. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform.

Abstract

Thirty-two Ss between 22 and 59 years of age yielded detection thresholds for 4 odorants over 4 sessions. The thresholds decreased and reliability increased over the course of testing. High intercorrelations between odorants and the stability of an S's relative position within the threshold distributions showed that a general factor of sensitivity dominated the outcome. Age contributed strongly to intersubject variation. Even among these nonelderly individuals, it accounted for up to 2 orders of magnitude in threshold performance. Other important factors included superiority of the right nostril and a negative correlation between the mean and variance of threshold distributions. Scant attention to the correlation may have contributed to overestimation of the frequency and specificity of specific anosmia. A clinically relevant outcome was that measurement of threshold for diagnostic purposes can generally rely on just 1 odorant.

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