Training the brain through the nose

Ageing is associated with a decline in our olfactory (smell) abilities. Difficulties with odour identification in particular are greater in people with neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s disease, and can be an early indicator of cognitive decline associated with the disease.

There is emerging evidence that ‘smell training’ – that is sniffing a range of odours over a few months - can enhance people’s ability to discriminate between different odours and better identify (or name) odours.

A group of us within the Academic Unit for the Psychiatry of Old Age, are developing an innovative approach to smell training.   We plan to incorporate evidence-based cognitive (brain) training strategies together with ‘sniffing’ odours with the aim of not only improving olfactory abilities, but also to improve cognitive (thinking and memory) function.

That is, we hope to ‘train the brain through the nose’

You can hear and read more about smell training and our research via the links below:

Channel 9 News: 'How "sniff school" could help older Australians with memory loss'

Radio National Health Report: 'Smell training and your brain'

The Conversation: 'An impaired sense of smell can signal cognitive decline, but "smell training" could help'

If you or someone you know is interested in taking part, we’re registering interest via: In particular, we are looking currently in this study for those 55+ years who live in Melbourne and have some noticeable thinking and memory problems.  You can also register interest in other cognitive training studies for which we’re recruiting at this address.