The Mind Your Nose Trial

Dr Alex Bahar-Fuchs was awarded US$120,000 to conduct a novel trial about the effects of olfactory-based memory training for older people with olfactory loss and subjective cognitive decline.

Dr Alex Bahar-Fuchs

An impaired sense of smell is highly prevalent in older people and is an independent risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. Studies have shown that olfactory training (OT) leads to improved performance on measures of olfaction in cognitively healthy younger and older adults. There is also emerging evidence that training memory via olfaction improves both olfactory and visual memory, but that training memory visually leads to restricted improvements in visual memory. Whether training olfactory memory in older people with olfactory loss and cognitive decline is feasible and efficacious is unknown, but this may provide an innovative and novel approach for cognitive training.

Funded by the Alzheimer’s Association, the Mind Your Nose trial will build on recent findings from Sweden by co-investigator Dr Jonas Olofsson and explore the effects of an olfactory-based memory training program relative to a visually-based memory training program, in older people with olfactory and cognitive decline. Specifically, we will explore the hypothesis that olfactory-based memory training (OMT) has benefits for both olfaction and cognition in older people who experience olfactory decline and either subjective cognitive decline (SCD) or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). We will also establish whether gains on standardized measures of olfaction generalize to everyday olfaction and other secondary outcomes. We expect that the trial will provide an exciting new avenue for cognitive intervention research, while directly targeting a clinically relevant outcome.

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Dr Alex Bahar-Fuchs