(HEALTH.USNEWS) — "Passing the smell test" may not just be a casual idiom anymore. New research suggests that the decreased ability to identify certain odors may signal early-stage Alzheimer's disease and future cognitive decline.
The test – dubbed the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test – was the focus of two studies presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Toronto. Both studies were funded by the National Institute on Aging.
In addition to an MRI scan measuring the thickness of the brain region where Alzheimer's typically first strikes, the so-called entorhinal cortex, one of the studies used the smell test on 397 adults in Manhattan, who were 80 years old, on average, and didn't have dementia. Fifty of these people (12.6 percent) had dementia four years after undergoing the initial smell test, while nearly 20 percent showed signs of cognitive decline.
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