Neuropsychological characteristics associated with olfactory hallucinations in schizophrenia

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2012 Sep;18(5):799-808. doi: 10.1017/S1355617712000471. Epub 2012 May 22.


Olfactory hallucinations (OHs) are present in a significant minority of people with schizophrenia, yet these symptoms are under-researched and poorly understood. This study aimed to identify the neuropsychological impairments that associate with OHs in schizophrenia. Patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were classified into an OH group and a group with auditory-verbal hallucinations (AVHs) and no lifetime history of OHs. Patients were age- and gender-matched to a healthy control group. All participants were assessed using: a test of odor identification; decision-making and socio-emotional tests of orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and amygdala function; and a battery of standardized executive tests. Patients, as a whole, performed more poorly than controls on the tests of odor identification, emotion processing and executive function, consistent with previous research. Only two tests of OFC functioning: the Object Alternation Task, taken from Oscar-Berman and Zola-Morgan's (1980a, 1980b) Comparative Neuropsychological Tasks, and a test of "faux pas" understanding discriminated between the OH and AVH patients. Findings provide the first preliminary support for OH-specific neuropsychological impairments associated with OFC dysfunction in schizophrenia. (JINS, 2012, 18, 1-10).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / diagnosis*
  • Hallucinations / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reading
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Schizophrenia / complications*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology
  • Young Adult