Olfactory dysfunction in schizophrenia: a review of neuroanatomy and psychophysiological measurements

Nguyen AD, Shenton ME, Levitt JJ

Harv Rev Psychiatry 2010 Sep-Oct;18(5):279-92

PMID: 20825265


Olfactory processing is thought to be mediated via the frontal and temporolimbic brain regions, both of which, as well as olfactory dysfunction, are implicated in schizophrenia. Likewise, several empirical studies of olfactory dysfunction–in particular, olfactory deficits in identification, odor detection threshold sensitivity, and odor memory, along with associated brain structural changes–have been conducted to illuminate the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. These anomalies have been investigated, more recently, as possible biological markers of that disabling illness. This article summarizes recent research on neuroimaging changes associated with olfactory impairments in schizophrenia patients and on related functional changes in psychophysiological measurements (e.g., odor identification, odor discrimination, odor detection threshold, and odor memory). The possible role of these changes as biological markers of the disorder will be discussed, as will potentially productive directions for future research.