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The memory of smell: the role of olfactory processing in the recall of memories.

You catch a whiff of school glue and suddenly memories of your childhood come flooding back. What is it about smells that can trigger memories so strong and real it feels like you’ve been transported back in time? Research shows that odors are especially effective as reminders of past experience, much more so than cues from other senses. Smells get routed through our olfactory bulbs, closely connected to hippocampus and amygdala, brain regions that handle memory and fear respectively. I have been using mice for the study of behavioral and psychological signs and symptoms of dementia for almost 10 years. I recently discovered that transgenic Alzheimer’s mice failed at an olfactory discrimination test compared to control animals. This phenomenon was found to be dependent on proper functional connectivity between distinct olfactory bulb regions and hippocampus as measured by synchronous BOLD fluctuations at rest. Moreover, the dysfunction was related to prodromal dementia in these mice, when the typical amyloid plaques are not present yet. The aim of the research grant is to study in aging mice how the olfactory system, the cortex and the limbic system work together to process olfactory information both consciously as well as subconsciously, and how this is affected by Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Extended to humans, the results can be a useful tool for diagnostic screening in Alzheimer’s and related dementias, the largest health care problem in the world today.

Date:1 Jan 2018 →  30 Dec 2018
Keywords:Olfactory processing, Recall of memories
Disciplines:Psychiatry and psychotherapy, Nursing, Other paramedical sciences, Clinical and counselling psychology, Other psychology and cognitive sciences