Chemosensory Perception

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 10–18 | Cite as

The Influence of Age on Brain Processing of Odors in Adolescent Girls

  • Pengfei Han
  • Cornelia Hummel
  • Hannah Hitzler
  • Johannes Gerber
  • Valentin Schriever
  • Thomas Hummel



Brain processing of odorants in different stages during adolescence is not well understood. This study aimed to investigate differences in brain processing of pleasant and unpleasant odors between adolescent girls at different ages.


Eleven girls aged 9–10 years and 20 girls aged 15–16 years participated in an fMRI study (1.5 T, repetition time 2.5 s) where two odorants (peach and n-butanol) were delivered passively to the participants’ nostrils. Psychophysical measurements for odor intensity, pleasantness, and familiarity were recorded.


Compared to older ones, younger girls were less familiar with peach odor. Stronger brain activation of piriform cortex, amygdala, bilateral insular cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and dorsal striatum (caudate and putamen) was observed in younger vs. older girls, whereas in older girls there was no superior activation in olfactory regions as compared to younger participants.

Conclusion and Implication

The findings demonstrating differences of brain activation patterns between girls of two age groups may reflect olfactory perception development during adolescence.


Olfaction fMRI Adolescent girls Age Olfactory learning 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by a grant from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to Thomas Hummel (Grant number DFG 441/18-1).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants and their legal guardians included in this study. Informed consent to participate in the study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Medical Faculty of the Technical University of Dresden.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smell & Taste Clinic, Department of OtorhinolaryngologyUniversity of Dresden Medical SchoolDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Department of NeuropediatricsUniversity of Dresden Medical SchoolDresdenGermany
  3. 3.Department of NeuroradiologyUniversity of Dresden Medical SchoolDresdenGermany

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