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Odor Familiarity and Identification Abilities in Adolescents

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Olfactory identification abilities in adolescents have been reported inferior compared with adults. Though this seems to be the case when comparing identification abilities using tests validated on-and for-adults, odor familiarity has been hypothesized to affect identification abilities in younger participants. However, this has never been thoroughly tested. The aims of this study were to investigate patterns in odor familiarity differences between adolescents and adults, and to investigate if an adolescent familiarity-based modification of an identification test could lead to similar identification scores in adolescents and adults. In total, 411 adolescent participants and 320 adult participants were included in the study. Odor familiarity ratings were obtained for 125 odors. A modified version of the "Sniffin' Sticks" identification test was created and validated on 72 adolescents based on adolescent familiarity scores. This test was applied to 82 normosmic adults and 167 normosmic adolescents. Results show a lower familiarity for spices and environmental odors, and a higher familiarity for candy odors in adolescents. The identification abilities in adults and adolescents were equal after familiarity-based modification. We conclude that changes in odor familiarity from adolescence to adulthood do not develop evenly for all odors, but are dependent on odor-object category.

TidsskriftChemical Senses
Sider (fra-til)239-246
StatusUdgivet - 2017

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