Cognitive factors in odor detection, odor discrimination, and odor identification tasks

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2010 Dec;32(10):1062-7. doi: 10.1080/13803391003683070. Epub 2010 Apr 30.


The purpose of this study was to determine cognitive correlates of olfactory performance across three different tasks. A total of 170 men and women (30-87 years of age) were assessed in olfactory sensitivity, discrimination, and identification. Also, participants were tested in a range of cognitive tests covering executive functioning, semantic memory, and episodic memory. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that proficiency in executive functioning and semantic memory contributed significantly to odor discrimination and identification performance, whereas all of the cognitive factors proved unrelated to performance in the odor threshold test. This pattern of outcome suggests that an individual's cognitive profile exerts a reliable influence on performance in higher order olfactory tasks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Odorants*
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Smell / physiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors