Effect of intensive olfactory training for cognitive function in patients with dementia

Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2022 Jan;22(1):5-11. doi: 10.1111/ggi.14287. Epub 2021 Nov 8.


Aim: Recent evidence has revealed an association between neurodegenerative disorders and olfactory dysfunction. However, whether olfactory training can improve cognitive impairment in patients with dementia requires further study. The present study aimed to resolve this by developing an intensive olfactory training (IOT) protocol and assessing its impact on each of the cognitive domains in patients with dementia.

Methods: Patients were prospectively recruited between June 2020 and September 2020. Baseline evaluations included demographic data, olfactory function test, depression scale and detailed cognitive function tests. Thirty-four patients in the experimental group underwent IOT twice a day with a 40-odor set for 15 days, while 31 individuals in the control group received conservative management. Follow-up evaluations using the depression scale and detailed cognitive function tests were performed after IOT.

Results: Baseline characteristics were not different between the two groups. The IOT group showed significant improvements in depression, attention, memory and language functions, but not global cognition, frontal executive, or visuospatial functions compared with the control group.

Conclusion: This study shows the ability of IOT to alleviate depression and improve some cognitive functions in patients with dementia. These results suggest that IOT may be an effective non-pharmacological approach for improving the symptoms of dementia. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2022; 22: 5-11.

Keywords: cognition; dementia; neurodegenerative disease; olfactory training; smell.

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Dementia* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests