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Smell identification function in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Research Center for Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.
Psychiatry investigation (Impact Factor: 1.06). 06/2012; 9(2):150-3. DOI: 10.4306/pi.2012.9.2.150
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Deficits in olfactory function are common features in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders. Olfactory processing is related to dopamine metabolism and orbitofrontal cortex functioning, both known to be involved in the neurobiology of ADHD. Some investigations suggested alterations in olfactory processing (identification and detection threshold) in patients with ADHD. Despite increasing knowledge, controversy about this topic still exists regarding children with ADHD. This study was conducted to help elucidate some of this controversy.
50 participants (8-15 years, mean=10.70±1.77) with ADHD were compared to 50 controls. The two groups were well matched for age, gender and Mean School Scores (MSS). We assessed odor identification and threshold through a smell test composed of two tests of identification and detection threshold. Odor detection threshold was assessed with the odorant phenyl ethyl alcohol solved in propylene glycol using a single staircase method. Odor identification was assessed with chemical essences of five common odorants.
The mean Sensory Identification Score for children with ADHD and the control groups were 3.76 (1.06) and 4.46 (0.76), respectively (p<0.001). The mean for Sensory Threshold Score for ADHD and control group was 6.4 (3.35) and 9.75 (2.16), respectively (p<0.001).
This study replicated altered olfactory performance in ADHD. Substantial olfactory deficits across the two domains of identification and detection threshold are observed in children with ADHD. These deficits do not seem to be a result of olfactory task difficulty and are not influenced by age, gender and MSS. Further studies are required to investigate whether olfactory function can be used as a biological marker for early diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of ADHD.

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    ABSTRACT: Olfactory identification ability implicates the integrity of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). The fronto-striatal circuits including the OFC have been involved in the neuropathology of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). However, only a few studies have examined olfactory function in patients with OCD. The Brief Smell Identification Test (B-SIT) and tests from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Automated Battery (CANTAB) were administered to 25 patients with OCD and to 21 healthy matched controls. OCD patients showed a significant impairment in olfactory identification ability as well as widely distributed cognitive deficits in visual memory, executive functions, attention, and response inhibition. The degree of behavioural impairment on motor impulsivity (prolonged response inhibition Stop-Signal Reaction Time) strongly correlated with the B-SIT score. Our study is the first to indicate a shared OFC pathological neural substrate underlying olfactory identification impairment, impulsivity, and OCD. Deficits in visual memory, executive functions and attention further indicate that regions outside of the orbitofronto-striatal loop may be involved in this disorder. Such results may help delineate the clinical complexity of OCD and support more targeted investigations and interventions. In this regard, research on the potential diagnostic utility of olfactory identification deficits in the assessment of OCD would certainly be useful.
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