Aging of cerebral olfactory regions was studied in 5 younger and 6 older healthy adults, matched by odor discrimination and identification scores, with positron emission tomography during odor sensory stimulation, discrimination, and identification tasks. Sensory stimulation engaged bilateral piriform and orbitofrontal regions, but neither discrimination nor identification evoked added temporal or orbital activity. Discrimination involved the hippocampus, implicating its role in serial odor comparisons (olfactory working memory). Left inferior frontal activity during identification may reflect semantic associations. Older participants deactivated the left gyrus rectus/medial orbital gyrus (GR/MOG) during sensory stimulation but activated GR/MOG during discrimination and identification. Adjusting for detection threshold eliminated GR/MOG group differences during sensory stimulation. Diminished threshold may lead to reduced engagement of olfactory association areas.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology