Remote Odor Memory in Alzheimer's Disease: Deficits as Measured by Familiarity

Caprice A. Niccoli-Waller, Jodi Harvey, Steven Nordin, Claire Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Deficit in olfaction and remote nonolfactory memory in Alzheimer's disease (AD) motivated the present study of remote memory for odors and faces, operationally defined as rated familiarity, in patients with AD and controls. Uncommon engineering symbols were rated for familiarity to ensure task comprehension. Results showed that patients with AD rate odors, but not faces, as significantly less familiar than do controls, which is indicative of deficit in remote odor memory. Follow-up testing 1 year later again showed this result. Poor odor-detection sensitivity in patients, with AD, but lack of significant correspondence between sensitivity and familiarity, suggests an existing but limited effect of sensitivity on familiarity. The findings provide further evidence that olfaction may be a useful modality for early identification of AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-136
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adult Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NIH grants #AG08203 and #AG04085 (CM) and training grant #DC00032 (SN). We gratefully acknowledge Drs. Robert Katzman, Leon Thal, David Salmon, and the late Nelson Butters, as well as the staff, patients, and volunteers at the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center of the University of California, San Diego. We also thank Dr. Andreas Monsch, Dr. Jill Razani, and Charlie D. Morgan for their advice and assistance.


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Familiarity
  • Odor memory
  • Olfactory
  • Remote memory


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