A Neurolinguistic Perspective of the Study of Olfaction

  • Karen L. Chobor


It is widely accepted that naming odors is a difficult task. In normal subjects, it is common to smell an odor and to recognize that it is familiar and belongs to a general class or category, but to be unable to come up with a specific label for it. This is known as the tip-of-the-nose phenomenon (Lawless and Engen, 1977). Several factors play a role here: (1) The encoding of an odor is highly experience-specific, so retrieval out of context is an arduous task; (2) it is difficult to “imagine” an odor, that is, there are no odor images as there are visual images; (3) there is no universally accepted classification system for odors (i.e., pungent, spicy, etc.), leading to greater reliance on specific item associations; (4) the associations made with odors tend not to be lexical, that is, they are made with a context and/or an object within that context.


Paired Associate Semantic System Odor Identification Olfactory Stimulation Olfactory Memory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andy, O.J., M.F. Jurko, and J.R. Hughes (1975). The amygdala in relation to olfaction Confinia Neurol. Proc. 6th Symp. Int. Soc. Res. Stereoencephalotomy, Tokyo, 1973, pt. II, 37, 215–222.Google Scholar
  2. Bartlett, J.C. (1977). Remembering environmental sounds: The role of verbalization at input. Memory Cognition, 5, 404–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barton, M. (1971). Recall of generic properties of words in aphasic patients. Cortex, 7, 73–82.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bayles, K., and A. Kaszniak (1987). Communication and Cognition in Normal Aging and Dementia. Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  5. Beauvois, M.F., B. Saillant, V. Meininger, and F. L’Hermitte (1978). Bilateral tactile aphasia: a tacto-verbal dysfunction. Brain,101, 381–401.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, J.W. (1972). Aphasia, Apraxia and Agnosia. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, J.W. (1988). The Life of the Mind. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, R., and D. McNeill (1966). The “tip of the tongue” phenomenon. J. Verbal Learning Verbal Behav., 5, 325–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cain, W.S. (1977). Physical and cognitive limitations on olfactory processing in human beings. In D. Muller-Schwarze and M.M. Mozell (Eds.), Chemical Signals in Vertebrates. New York: Plenum, pp. 287–3.Google Scholar
  10. Cain, W.S. (1977). Bilateral interaction in olfaction. Nature,268, 50–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cain, W.S. (1979). To know with the nose: keys to odor identification. Science, 203, 467–470.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cain, W.S. (1980). Chemosensation and cognition. In H. van der Starre (Ed.), Olfaction and Taste, vol. 7. London: IRL pp. 347–358.Google Scholar
  13. Cain, W.S., and R.J. Krause (1979). Olfactory testing: rules for odor identification. Neurol. Res., 1, 1–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Cain, W.S., J. Gent, F.A. Catalanotto, and R.B. Goodspeed (1983). Clinical evaluation of olfaction. Am. J. Otolaryngol., 4, 252–256.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cain, W.S., and J.F. Gent (1986) Using odor identification in clinical testing of olfaction. In H.L. Meiselman and R.S. Rivlin (Eds.), Clinical Measurement of Taste and Smell. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. Chertkow, H., and D. Bub (1988). Disorders of semantic storage: do they exist in Alzheimer’s disease? Acad. Aphasia, Montreal.Google Scholar
  17. Chobor, K.L., and J.W. Brown (1990). Semantic deterioration in Alzheimer’s: The patterns to expect. Geriatrics, 45(10), 68–75.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Clarke, E.V. (1975). Knowledge, context and strategy in the acquistion of meaning. In D.P. Dato (Ed.), University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Corwin, J., M. Serby, P. Conrad, and J. Rotrosen (1985). Olfactory recognition deficits in Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonian dementias. ICRS Med. Sci., 13, 260.Google Scholar
  20. Damasio, A.R. (1985). The frontal lobes. In K.M. Heilman and E. Valenstein (Eds.), Clin. Neuropsychol., New York: Oxford University Press, 2nd Ed. p. 365.Google Scholar
  21. Davis, R.G. (1975). Acquisition of verbal associations to olfactory stimuli of varying familiarity and to abstract visual stimuli. J. Exp. Psychol., 104, 134–142.Google Scholar
  22. Davis, R.G. (1977). Acquisition of verbal associations to olfactory and abstract visual stimuli of varying similarity. J. Exp. Psychol., 3, 37–51.Google Scholar
  23. Doty, R.L., P. Shaman, S.L. Applebaum, R. Gilberson, L. Sikorski, and L. Rosenberg (1984). Smell identification ability: changes with age. Science, 226, 1441–1443.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Doty, R.L., P. Shaman, and M. Dann (1984). Development of the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test: a standard microencapsulated test of olfactory function. Physiol. Behav., 32, 489–502.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Doty, R.L., P. Reyes, and T. Gregor (1987). Presence of both odor identification and detection deficits in Alzeimer’s disease. Brain Res. Bull., 18, 597–600.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Eich, J.E. (1978). Fragrances as cues for remembering words. J. Verbal Learning Behav., 17, 103–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Engen, T. (1982). The Perception of Odors. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  28. Engen, T. (1983). The human uses of olfaction. Am. J. Otolaryngol., 4, 250–251.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Engen, T. (1987). Remembering odors and their names. Am. Sci.,75, 497–503.Google Scholar
  30. Engen, T., and C. Pfaffman (1960). Absolute judgments of odor quality. J. Exp. Psychol., 59, 214–219.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Engen, T., J.E. Kuisma, and P.D. Eimas (1973). Short-term memory of odors. J. Exp. Psychol., 99, 222–225.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Engen, T., and B.M. Ross (1973). Long-term memory of odors with and without verbal descriptions. J. Exp. Psychol., 100, 221–227.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Engen, T., and J. Eaton (1975). Free recall of odor and color names. Unpublished manuscript, Brown University.Google Scholar
  34. Folstein, M.F., S.E. Folstein, and P.R. McHigh (1975). “Mini-Mental State.” J. Psychiatr. Res., 12, 189–198.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gainotti, G. (1987). The status of the semantic-lexical structures in anomia. Aphasiology, 1(6), 449–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Goldstein, K. (1948). Language and Language Disturbances: Aphasie Symptom Complexes and Their Significance for Medicine and Theory of Language. New York: Grune and Stratton.Google Scholar
  37. Goodglass, H., B. Klein, P. Carey, and K.J. James (1966). Specific semantic word categories in aphasia. Cortex,2, 74–89.Google Scholar
  38. Goodglass, H., M. Barton, and E. Kaplan (1968). Sensory modality and object-naming in aphasia. J. Speech Hearing Res., 11, 488–496.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Goodglass, H., and E. Kaplan (1972). Assessment of Aphasia and Related Disorders. Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger.Google Scholar
  40. Grober, E., H. Buschke, C. Kawas, and P. Fuld (1985). Impaired ranking of semantic attributes in dementia. Brain Lang., 26, 276–286.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hart, J., Jr., R.S. Berndt, and A. Caramazza (1985). Category-specific naming deficit following cerebral infarction. Nature,576(6027), 439–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hecaen, H., M.C. Goldblum, M.C. Masure, and A.M. Ramier (1974). Une nouvelle observation d’agnosie d’objet. Deficit de l’association, ou de la categorisation, specifique de la modalite visuelle? Neuropsychologia, 12, 447–464.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Huff, F., S. Corkin, and J. Growdon, (1986) Semantic impairment and anomia in Alzheimer’s disease. Brain Lang.,28, 235–249.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jacoby, L.L., and F.I.M. Craik (1979). Effects of elaboration of processing at encoding and retrieval: Trace distinctiveness and recovery of initial context. In L.S. Cermak and F.I.M. Craik (Eds.), Levels of Processing in Human Memory. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 1–22.Google Scholar
  45. Koss, E., J. Weiffenbach, J. Haxby, and R. Friedland (1988). Olfactory detection and identification performance are dissociated in early Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology,338(8), 1228–1232.Google Scholar
  46. Kurtz, K.H., and C.I. Hovlan (1953). The effect of verbalization during observation of stimulus objects upon accuracy of recognition and recall. J. Exp. Psychol., 45(3), 157–164.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Laird, D.A. (1935). What can you do with your nose? Sci. Monthly,41, 126–130.Google Scholar
  48. Lawless, H.T., and W.S. Cain, (1975). Recognition memory for odors. Chem. Senses,1, 331–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lawless, H.T., and T. Engen (1977). Associations to odors: interference, mnemonics, and verbal learning. J. Exp. Psychol. 3, 52–59.Google Scholar
  50. Mair, R.G., and T. Engen (1976). Some effects of aphasic lesions on odor perception. Sensory Processes, 1, 33–39.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Mair, R.G., C. Capra, W.J. McEntee, and T. Engen (1980). Odor discrimination and memory in Korsakoff’s psychosis. J. Exp. Psychol., 6, 445–458.Google Scholar
  52. Mark, V.W., and K.L. Chobor (1990). Influences on the speech comprehension deficit in cortical auditory disorder. Aphasiology, 4(5), 587–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Martin, A., and P. Fedio (1983). Word production and comprehension in Alzheimer’s disease: the breakdown of semantic knowledge. Brain Lang., 19; 124–141.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mozell, M., D.E. Hornung, D.A. Leopold, and S.L. Youngentob (1983). Initial mechanisms basic to olfactory perception. Am. J. Otolaryngol., 4, 238–245.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Murphy, C, and W.S. Cain (1986). Odor identification: the blind are better. Physiol. Behav., 37, 177–180.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Peabody, C, and J. Tinklenberg (1985). Olfactory deficits and primary degenerative dementia. Am. J. Psychiatry, 142, 524–525.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Postman, L., K. Stark, and J. Fraser (1968). Temporal changes in interference. J. Verbal Learning Behav., 7, 672–694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Potter, H., and N. Butters (1980). An assessment of olfactory deficits in patients with damage to prefrontal cortex. Neuropsychologia, 18, 621–628.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Putnam, H. (1975). The meaning of “meaning.” In K. Gunderson (Ed.). Language, Mind and Knowledge, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science. Vol. 7. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  60. Rabin, M.D., and W.S. Cain (1984). Odor recognition: familiarity, identifiability, and encoding consistency. J. Exp. Psychol., 10(2), 316–325.Google Scholar
  61. Randt, C.T., E.R. Brown, and D.P. Osborne (1980). A memory test for longitudinal measurement of mild to moderate deficiencies. Clin. Neurosychol., 2, 184–194.Google Scholar
  62. Reisberg, B., S.H. Ferris, M.J. de Leon, and T. Crook (1982). Global deterioration scale (GDS) for age-associated cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Am. J. Psychiatry, 139, 1136–1139.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Rezak, D.L. (1987). Olfactory deficits as a neurologic sign in dementia of the Alzheimer type. Arch. Neurol., 44, 1030–1032.Google Scholar
  64. Serby, M. (1985). Olfactory dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Am. J. Psychiatry, 142, 781–782.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Serby, M., P. Larson, D. Kalkstein (1991). The nature and course of olfactory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease. Am. J. Psychiatry, 148, 357–360.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Shallice, T., and E.K. Warrington (1975). Word recognition in a phonemic dyslexic patient. Q. J. Exp. Psychol., 27, 187–199.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Shepard, R.N. (1967). Recognition memory for words, sentences, and pictures. J. Verbal Learning Behav., 6, 156–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Toglia, M.P., and W.F. Battig (1978). Handbook of Semantic Norms. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  69. Vandette, J.M. (1964). A clinical study of responses to olfactory stimuli in aphasic adults. Unpublished Master’s thesis, University of Oregon.Google Scholar
  70. Warner, M., et al. (1986). Olfactory deficits and Alzheimer’s disease. Biol. Psychiat., 21, 116.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Warrington, E., and T. Shallice (1984). Category specific semantic impairment. Brain,107, 829.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wright, R.H. (1964). The Science of Smell. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  73. Wright, R.H., and R.E. Burgess (1971). Molecular mechanisms of olfactory discrimination and sensitivity. In G. Ohloff and A.F. Thomas (Eds.), Gustation and Olfaction. London: Academic.Google Scholar
  74. Yamadori, A., and M.L. Albert (1973). Word category aphasia. Cortex, 9, 112–125.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen L. Chobor

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations