Abstract

The relationship between odor identification and cognition has not been previously well characterized. The neuroanatomy of the olfactory system and the frequent finding of olfactory dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases suggest a likely relationship between odor identification and memory, language, and executive functioning, though previous studies have often failed to demonstrate the expected relationship. The current study examined this relationship in across a continuum of ability levels (N=100). Strongest correlations were found between odor identification and language, most aspects of memory, and a measure of general cognitive functioning. Significant but more modest correlations were seen between odor identification and attention, motor, visuospatial, and executive functions. A regression analysis revealed language as the only significant predictor of olfactory performance. These findings suggest that odor identification is most closely associated with other measures of temporo-limbic functioning. The implications of these findings, particularly in consideration of the assessment of older adults, are discussed.