Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Elderly lose ability to distinguish between odors, researcher finds; Smells blend together, pose hazards

Date:
November 11, 2011
Source:
University of Colorado Denver
Summary:
Scientists studying the effect of aging on smell, have found that those 60 and over have more difficulty distinguishing between odors, putting them at risk from dangerous chemicals and poor nutrition.

Scientists studying how the sense of smell changes as people age, found that olfactory sensory neurons in those 60 and over showed an unexpected response to odor that made it more difficult to distinguish specific smells, putting them at greater risk from dangerous chemicals and poor nutrition.

"We found clear changes in olfactory sensory neuron responses to odors for those 60 and up," said Professor Diego Restrepo, Ph.D., director of the Center for NeuroScience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine who led the researchers. "When we presented two different odors to the olfactory sensory neurons of younger people they responded to one or the other. The sensory neurons from the elderly responded to both. This would make it harder for the elderly to differentiate between them."

According to the study published in the latest issue of Neurobiology of Aging, those losing their sense of smell are at a higher risk of malnutrition since taste and smell are closely related, they may also be unable to detect spoiled food, leaking gas or toxic vapors.

Researchers looked at 440 subjects in two age groups -- those 45- years-old and younger and those 60 and over. Their olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) were tested for their responses to two distinct odors as well as subsets of those odors.

Restrepo wanted to determine if age-related differences in the function of OSNs might contribute to an impairment of the sense of smell. In a collaboration with Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, researchers biopsied cells from both age groups.

"Whereas cells from younger donors were highly selective in the odorants to which they responded, cells from older donors were more likely to respond to multiple odor stimuli… suggesting a loss of specificity," the study said.

The scientists had expected to find less OSNs in older subjects and they thought the neurons would be less likely to respond to stimuli. In fact, they found as many neurons in the old as the young but those over 60 could not differentiate between two odors, they blended together.

The study suggests that changes in nose and the brain contribute to smell loss in the elderly, Restrepo said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado Denver. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nancy E. Rawson, George Gomez, Beverly J. Cowart, Andres Kriete, Edmund Pribitkin, Diego Restrepo. Age-associated loss of selectivity in human olfactory sensory neurons. Neurobiology of Aging, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.09.036

Cite This Page:

University of Colorado Denver. "Elderly lose ability to distinguish between odors, researcher finds; Smells blend together, pose hazards." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111110130104.htm>.
University of Colorado Denver. (2011, November 11). Elderly lose ability to distinguish between odors, researcher finds; Smells blend together, pose hazards. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111110130104.htm
University of Colorado Denver. "Elderly lose ability to distinguish between odors, researcher finds; Smells blend together, pose hazards." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111110130104.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins