Aging and your Sense of Smell

Study says an old individual can perceive smell in different way other than how it’s being perceived by the younger ones.

A new study also confirm sensory neurons in the olfactory system in people over 60 may show responses to odour that make it difficult to identify specific smells. This can create issues with identifying dangerous substances and promoting good nutrition.

While discussing research published in Neurobiology of Aging in 2011, Professor Diego Restrepo, Ph.D., director of the Center for NeuroScience at University of Colorado School of Medicine said:

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Read also: Emotional Signs of Aging

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“We found clear changes in olfactory sensory neuron responses to odours for those 60 and up. When we presented two different odours 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.”

The researchers expressed that people losing their sense of smell had a higher risk of malnutrition because taste and smell are closely related. Also they may be unable to detect spoiled food, gas leaks and other toxic vapours.

440 subjects in two age groups – 45-years-old and younger and people 60 and over – were tested for responses to two distinct odours and also subsets of those odours. The objective was to find out if age-related differences in the function of Olfactory Sensory Neurons (OSNs) might contribute to the impairment of the sense of smell. Cells from the two groups were biopsied in collaboration with Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

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Read also: How to cope with Premature Aging

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The researchers expected to find fewer OSNs in the older subjects and thought the neurons would be less likely to respond to stimuli. However, they found just as many neurons in the older group as the younger but the over 60s could not differentiate between two odours – they blended together.

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