The effects of age, mood, environment, pharmacology, and cognitive status on lifespan olfactorial memory
Elsner, Robert James Francis
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This project was designed to address the basic question of sources of ageassociated change in olfactory memory. These changes have historically been reported as declines in abilities, examinations have concentrated on losses and their impact on the individual. As olfactory memory is not yet well established as a sensory modality in the literature, this dissertation reviews the relevant literature, followed by three studies. The first study addressed olfactory changes in the superlative aging of centenarians, and found olfactory performance and memory better than anticipated for much younger adults. The second study examined environmental and pharmacological factors contributing to declines in olfactory sensitivity and memory, and found these two factors contribute more to loss than does age. The final study considered the components of age, medication use, and environment, but also addresses the endogenous factor of mood state on memorial abilities. The third study found that there are interactions between all of these issues that are more important than any single variable itself. Findings of these studies reveal that chronological age is more an indicator of potential for loss than of loss itself.