Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings Among Individuals With Olfactory and Cognitive Impairment

Julie S. Yi, Nanki Hura, Christopher R. Roxbury, Sandra Y. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: The underlying mechanism of the association between olfactory impairment and dementia may be explained by neurodegenerative changes detected on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The purpose of this systematic review is to describe neurodegenerative changes on MRI in patients with olfactory impairment and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. Study design: Systematic review. Methods: A literature search encompassing PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar for studies with MRI and olfactory testing among participants diagnosed with MCI or dementia was performed. Sample size, study design, cognitive impairment type, olfactory testing, and MRI findings were abstracted. Two investigators independently reviewed all articles. Results: The search yielded 556 nonduplicate abstracts, from which 86 articles were reviewed and 24 were included. Seventeen (71%) of 24 studies reported hippocampal volume findings, with 14 studies reporting a relationship between hippocampal volume and olfactory performance. Two (50%) of four prospective studies reported the potential utility of baseline hippocampal volume as a marker of dementia conversion from MCI. Five (21%) of 24 studies reporting olfactory functional MRI (fMRI) findings highlighted the utility of olfactory fMRI to identify individuals in the early stages of cognitive decline. Conclusion: Current evidence suggests hippocampal volume correlates with olfactory performance in individuals with cognitive impairment, and that olfactory fMRI may improve early detection of AD. However, the predictive utility of these imaging markers is limited in prospective studies. MRI may be a useful modality for selecting patients at high risk of future cognitive decline for enrollment in early treatment trials. Laryngoscope, 132:177–187, 2022.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-187
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • MRI
  • Olfaction
  • cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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