Correlation between olfactory bulb volume and olfactory function in children and adolescents

Exp Brain Res. 2011 Oct;214(2):285-91. doi: 10.1007/s00221-011-2832-7. Epub 2011 Aug 13.


The olfactory bulb (OB) is considered to be the most important relay station in odor processing. The present study aimed to investigate the volumetric development of the human bulb and the olfactory function during childhood and youth. Furthermore, the present study aimed to investigate a possible correlation between OB volume and specific olfactory functions including odor threshold, odor discrimination and odor identification. A total of 87 subjects (46 boys, 41 girls), aged 1-17 years (mean age 8 years), participated in this study. None of them reported olfactory dysfunction or had signs of a dysfunctional sense of smell. Whenever possible, participants received a volumetric scan of the brain and lateralized olfactory tests. Volumetric measurements of the right and left OB were taken by manual segmentation of the coronal slices through the OB. Significant correlations between OB volumes and olfactory function were observed. Both, OB volumes and olfactory function increased with age, although the correlation between structure and function was not mediated by the subjects' age. In conclusion, for the first time, the present study showed a correlation between OB volume and olfactory functions in children.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Olfactory Bulb / growth & development*
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology*
  • Organ Size
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Smell / physiology*