Smell can predict loss of cognitive functions – healing practice

Link between rapid loss of smell and dementia

In the early diagnosis of dementia could he sense of smell be of crucial help. According to a current study, an increased risk of dementia can be determined at an early stage using appropriate olfactory tests.

In the new study, the team has to Professor Jayant M. Pinto of the University of Chicago investigates whether it is possible to identify changes in the brain that correlate with the loss of the sense of smell and cognitive function. The results were published in the specialist journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Links between smell and dementia

Memory plays a crucial role in our ability to recognize smells, and it has long been known that there is a connection between sense of smell and dementia exists, the researchers report.

Die Alzheimer’s typical plaques for example, often appear first in areas associated with smell and memory before developing in other parts of the brain, the research team said.

So far, however, it has remained unclear whether this damage actually occurs decline in the sense of smell cause in those affected.

“Our idea was that people whose sense of smell declines rapidly over time are in worse shape — and more likely to develop brain problems and even Alzheimer’s disease — than people whose sense of smell slowly declines or stays normal.”according to the study author Rachel Pacyna von der University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

Data from the Memory and Aging Project evaluated

The researchers have now supported this hypothesis using anonymized patient data from 515 people from the Memory and Aging Project (MAP) reviewed by Rush University. In which MAP chronic signs of aging and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease have been investigated since 1997.

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All participants live in retirement or senior living communities in northern Illinois and are tested annually, among other things on their ability to to detect smellsas well as on theirs cognitive functions and up signs of dementia tested. An MRI scan was also performed on some participants.

Smell can predict features of Alzheimer’s disease

The analysis of the data made it clear that a rapid decrease in sense of smell of a person during a period of normal cognitive ability can predict several features of Alzheimer’s disease.

Thus, a deterioration in the sense of smell was associated with a lower gray matter volume in the areas of the brain related to smell and memory, one worse cognitive performance and one higher dementia risk.

Noticeable changes in certain brain regions

Most noticeable were the changes in the primary olfactory regions, including the Amygdala and des entorhinal cortexwhich provides important input to the hippocampus, a critical site in Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers report.

“We were able to show that the volume and shape of gray matter in the olfactory and memory-related areas of the brain were smaller in people with rapid olfactory decline than in people with less severe olfactory decline.”so Professor Pinto.

Smell test for dementia screening

Next, the team would like to evaluate, among other things, the effectiveness of the use of smell tests in clinics – similar to vision and hearing tests – as a means of Screening and to monitor older adults for signs of early dementia.

“If we could identify people early in their 40s, 50s and 60s who are at higher risk, we might have enough information to enroll them in clinical trials and develop better drugs.”explained Pacyna.

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The study results provide further evidence that “that a rapid decline in the sense of smell is a really good predictor of what’s going to happen structurally in certain regions of the brain”summed up Professor Pinto. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of medical specialist literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


  • Rachel R. Pacyna, S. Duke Han, Kristen E. Wroblewski, Martha K. McClintock, Jayant M. Pinto: Rapid olfactory decline during aging predicts dementia and GMV loss in AD brain regions; in: Alzheimer’s & Dementia (veröffentlicht 28.07.2022),
  • University of Chicago Medical Center: Rapid loss of smell predicts dementia and smaller brain areas linked to Alzheimer’s (veröffentlicht 28.07.2022),

Important NOTE:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.



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