Early Aging Effect on the Function of the Human Central Olfactory System

Jian-li Wang, Xiaoyu Sun, Qing Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


During normal aging process, the smell function declines significantly, starting from the sixth decade of age. While it has been shown that activity in the central olfactory system of seniors responding to odor stimulation is significantly less than that of young people, no information of the aging effect on the functions of this system during normal adulthood and early aging has been gathered. In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the olfaction-related brain activity in the central olfactory structures of 43 healthy adult volunteers aged from 22 to 64 years. The participants' smell identification function was negatively correlated with age (r =-.32, p = .037). Significant negative correlation was observed between age and the olfaction-related activities in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, left insular cortex, and left orbitofrontal cortex (p > .001, corrected with cluster size ≤28 voxels). There was no significant correlation observed between age and the activity in the primary olfactory cortex detected in this age group. These results suggest that age-related functional decline in the human brain is more prominent in the secondary and higher-order central olfactory structures than the primary olfactory cortex in the early aging process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1007-1014
Number of pages8
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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