Olfactory functioning

What is olfactory functioning?

Olfactory functioning is hierarchical and involves lower-order processing (detection of the stimulus) and higher-order processing (discrimination and identification of the stimulus). Measures of olfactory acuity include odor detection, identification, discrimination, intensity, and quality. Odour detection occurs at the lowest chemical concentration needed to register an odourant. Odour identification draws on a person’s knowledge and memory to correctly label the smell. Odour discrimination involves comparing the differences between multiple stimuli, judging odours as pleasant or unpleasant, or comparing the relative concentration of odours.

What is the evidence for olfactory functioning?

Moderate to low quality evidence suggests poorer olfactory identification in people with bipolar disorder than controls, but better olfactory identification compared to people with psychosis. Olfactory hallucinations were associated particularly with depressive episodes.

March 2019

Last updated at: 4:12 am, 30th March 2019
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

NeuRA Libraries

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