Quantitative electroencephalographic changes induced by odor detection and identification tasks: age related effects Academic Article uri icon


  • There are no previous studies which have compared quantitative electroencephalographic (QEEG) activity in young adult and normal elderly participants during olfactory tasks. This may be important if QEEG is to have a role in distinguishing between normal and pathological aging associated with this sensory system. Seventeen healthy elderly subjects (mean age 79.00+/-3.54 years) and 16 young adult controls (mean age 22.60+/-2.00 years) participated in the study. As reported in previous studies, beta1 and 2 activity was significantly greater in elderly subjects compared to young adults, thus confirming the reliability and validity of this study's quantitative electroencephalographic (QEEG) methodology. More alpha activity was evident in young adults compared with the elderly, whilst θ activity was distributed differently in the two age groups. These findings support previous literature suggesting EEG bandwidth activity reflect greater attentional capacity in young adults and EEG desynchronization in older people. Elderly subjects who identified two or fewer odors were found to have more beta activity in the olfaction condition compared to resting eyes closed, which may reflect cognitive impairment. These findings stress the importance of distinguishing subgroups of healthy elderly adults when examining the electroencephalographic profile.

publication date

  • August 2001