Independence of Odor Quality and Absolute Sensitivity in a Study of Aging

W.S. Cain, R.A. de Wijk, S. Nordin, M. Nordin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Young, middle-aged, and senior subjects performed tasks designed to examine whether odor quality discrimination varies independently of sensitivity. One task entailed detection of 2-heptanone and the others AB-X discrimination of quality for sets of 2-heptanone and homologues or 2-heptanone and non-ketones. Subjects sought to discriminate either at intensity-matched concentrations far above threshold, but fixed across subjects, or at levels adjusted to neutralize differences in sensitivity. The young and middle-aged groups manifested the same absolute sensitivity, but the senior group poorer sensitivity. Performance in quality discrimination, however, declined progressively. Performance lacked an association with absolute sensitivity, no matter how examined. These data, in conjunction with converging findings from patients with neurological damage, studies of brain imaging, and the relation between concentration and quality discrimination in younger persons, suggest largely independent processing of odor quality and intensity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)24-33
    JournalChemosensory Perception
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    • olfactory discrimination ability
    • life-span development
    • old-age
    • temporal lobectomy
    • elderly persons
    • identification
    • deficits
    • smell
    • perception
    • threshold


    Dive into the research topics of 'Independence of Odor Quality and Absolute Sensitivity in a Study of Aging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this