Olfaction is impaired in Alzheimer's disease (AD). It was hypothesized that AD would reduce olfactory-evoked perfusion in mesial temporal olfactory (piriform) cortex, where neuropathology begins. Seven AD patients and 8 elderly controls (ECs) underwent olfactory threshold and identification tests and olfactory stimulation during positron emission tomography. Odor identification was impaired in AD, but threshold was not. Olfactory stimulation in ECs activated right and left piriform areas and right anterior ventral temporal cortex. AD patients had less activation in right piriform and anterior ventral temporal cortex but not in the left piriform area. Although orbital cortex did not activate in ECs, there was a significant between-groups difference in this area. Right piriform activation correlated with odor identification. Impaired odor identification likely reflects sensory cortex dysfunction rather than cognitive impairment. Given olfactory bulb projections to the mesial temporal lobe, olfactory stimulation during functional imaging might detect early dysfunction in this region.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology