Is there a correlation between hippocampus and amygdala volume and olfactory function in healthy subjects?

M. Smitka, S. Puschmann, D. Buschhueter, J. C. Gerber, M. Witt, N. Honeycutt, N. Abolmaali, T. Hummel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Both amygdala (AG) and hippocampus (HC) are integral parts of the olfactory system. The present study, including a large number of healthy subjects, was performed to compare HC and AG volumes, measured by manual tracing, in relation to specific olfactory functions, including odor threshold, discrimination, identification, and odor memory tasks. It also aimed to provide age-related normative data about the volume of the HC and AG. A total of 117 healthy volunteers participated (age range 19-77. years, mean age 37. years; 62 women, 55 men). Using the "Sniffin' Sticks", subjects received lateralized tests for odor threshold, and odor discrimination. In addition, an odor memory and an odor identification task were performed bilaterally. A Mini-Mental-State test excluded dementia. MR scans were performed using a 1.5. T scanner for later manual volumetric measurements. Volumetric measurements exhibited a good reproducibility. The average volume for the right HC was 3.29cm 3 (SD 0.47), for the left HC it was 3.15cm 3 (SD 0.47). The average right AG had a volume of 1.60cm 3 (SD 0.31), left 1.59cm 3 (SD 0.3). Increasing age was accompanied by a decrease of HC and AG volumes, which were much more pronounced for the right compared to the left side. Only the volume of the right HC showed a small but significant correlation with odor threshold (r 117=0.21; p=0.02). Importantly, this correlation was not mediated by age as indicated by the significant partial correlation when controlling for age (r 114=0.18; p=0.049).In conclusion, the present data obtained in a relatively large group of subjects demonstrates a small correlation between the volume of the HC, as an integral part of the olfactory system, and smell function. In addition, these data can be used as the basis for normative values of HC and AG volumes, separately for men, women and different age groups. This is of potential interest in diseases with acute or chronic impairment of olfactory function, in metabolic or neurodegenerative diseases or in disorders with damage of areas involved in adult neurogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1052-1057
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 16 2012


  • Brain
  • Nose
  • Olfaction
  • Smell
  • Volumetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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