Dysfunctional Incidental Olfaction in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): An Electroencephalography (EEG) Study
Received: 15 August 2011 / Revised: 27 September 2011 / Accepted: 18 October 2011 / Published: 28 October 2011
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Our study provides evidence that Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is associated with olfactory dysfunction on both conscious and non-conscious levels. MCI patients and age-matched controls underwent a face processing task during which sympathy decisions had to be made via button presses. Incidentally,
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Our study provides evidence that Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is associated with olfactory dysfunction on both conscious and non-conscious levels. MCI patients and age-matched controls underwent a face processing task during which sympathy decisions had to be made via button presses. Incidentally, some of the faces were associated with a simultaneously presented odour. Although attention was paid to faces, brain activities were analysed with respect to odour versus
no-odour conditions. Behavioural differences were found related to overall face recognition performance, but these were not statistically significant. However, odour-related neurophysiology differed between both groups. Normal controls demonstrated brain activity differences between odour and no-odour conditions that resemble difference activity patterns in healthy young participants as described in a previous magnetoencephalography (MEG) study . They showed odour-related activity patterns between about 160 ms and 320 ms after stimulus onset and between about 640 ms and 720 ms. On the other hand, the patient group did not show any such difference activities. Based on previous research we interpret the early odour-related brain activity pattern in controls as being associated with subliminal olfaction and the later activity pattern with conscious olfaction. None of these were found in MCI patients, although it has to be emphasised that our sample size was rather small. We confirm previous findings about olfactory related dysfunction in patients with MCI and conclude from our findings that even subliminal odour-related information processing is impaired.