The smell of my self: Odor exposure increases the number of self-defining memories in Alzheimer’s disease

Mohamad El Haj*, Ophélie Glachet, Ahmed A. Moustafa, Karim Gallouj

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Self-defining memories (i.e., memories of self-relevant events) were found to be hampered by Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). We therefore investigated whether this decline can be alleviated with odor exposure. We invited individuals with mild AD and healthy controls to choose a preferred odor and to retrieve three autobiographical memories after exposure to that odor as well as to retrieve three other memories without odor exposure. We analyzed the retrieved memories regarding their self-defining nature. Results demonstrated a retrieval of a higher number of self-defining memories in individuals with AD after odor-exposure than in the odor-free condition. Our study demonstrates positive effects of odor exposure on self-defining memories in AD but not in normal aging. We attribute the beneficial effect of odors in individuals with AD to their familiarity. At the clinical level, our findings contribute to the enhancement of autobiographical memory and the amelioration of diminished sense of self in AD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

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