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Olfactory event-related potentials in normal human subjects: effects of age and gender.

  • Author(s): Evans, WJ
  • Cui, L
  • Starr, A
  • et al.

Behavioral and electrophysiological testing of olfactory function was performed in 33 normal human male and female subjects, 18-83 years of age. Acuity for odor identification and odor detection was verified by standard psychophysical tests. For evoked potential testing, a constant flow olfactometer provided odorant stimuli (amyl acetate) or air control stimuli that were presented to the right nostril by a nasal cannula at a flow rate of 5 l/min, duration of 40 msec and random interstimulus intervals of 6-30 sec. The behavioral tests revealed no significant difference between males and females, whereas increasing age was associated with a decline in performance on the odor identification test. No reproducible evoked potentials were recorded in response to the air control stimulus. Potentials to the odorant stimulus consisted of 4 components named P1, N1, P2 and N2. A significant correlation was found between P2 latency and odor identification test scores, suggesting a relationship between the generation of the P2 component and olfactory processing. P2 peak latency increased significantly with age at 2.5 msec/year. An age-related decline in N1-P2 interpeak amplitude was seen in male subjects. Topographic differences were seen in the P2 peak amplitude and the N1-P2 and P2-N2 interpeak amplitudes such that their amplitudes were greatest at Cz and Pz. On average, N1-P2 interpeak amplitudes were larger in the female subjects than in the male subjects, possibly revealing a hormonal influence on the olfactory event-related potential.

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