The Nose is Key to Unexpected Cognitive Functions

Interestingly, the anterior olfactory nucleus, a region in the forebrain that registers odor, has recently been found to be responsible for certain aspects of memory. Even more interesting is that those aspects are still linked with the sense of smell.

A team of Swedish investigators published a study in the Journal of Neuroscience reporting that breathing through the nose is more helpful for the storage and consolidation of memories than breathing through the mouth.

But that is just one aspect of the study’s findings. The second aspect concerns the process that mediates between breathing, learning, and memory retrieval.

The team pointed out that this line of inquiry, as well as the technology being used to investigate it, is new, the idea that breathing might affect behavior and memory is very old.

In the words of lead author Dr. Artin Arshamian,”This knowledge has been around for thousands of years, in such areas as meditation. But no one has managed to prove scientifically what actually goes on the brain. We now have tools that can reveal new clinical knowledge.”

The anterior olfactory nucleus also plays a lead role in another study, published in Nature Communication., That study showed that people with good spatial memory are better at identifying smells than people with poor spatial memory.

The sense of smell is even related to dementia risk. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found a strong connection between the ability to identify smells and the risk of developing dementia. Losing one’s sense of smell may prove to be a strong indicator of dementia risk. The researchers suggest that dementia risk may be one day be assessed by means of a smell test.

At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility.

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We carefully select, train and re-train our wonderful caregivers, who are especially sensitive to the needs of our long-term care patients. They treat residents with love, compassion, and dignity.

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