Functional MR imaging during odor stimulation: Preliminary data

David M. Yousem, Steven C.R. Williams, Robert O. Howard, Chris Andrew, Andrew Simmons, Mark Allin, Rena J. Geckle, Dana Suskind, Edward T. Bullmore, Michael J. Brammer, Richard L. Doty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: To determine the locations and extent of activation in areas of the brain at functional magnetic resonance (MR) imaging with olfactory stimulation and to determine whether accommodation or amplification of brain activation occurs with sequential olfactory stimulation. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Five adult men with normal senses of smell underwent multisection, gradient-echo, echo-planar imaging according to a blood-oxygen-level dependent experimental paradigm. Odorants that nearly exclusively stimulate the olfactory system and odorants that stimulate the olfactory and trigeminal nerves were compared by using repetitive imaging procedures. RESULTS: Activation with olfactory nerve-mediated odorants was demonstrated in the orbitofrontal cortex (Brodmann area 11) with a right-sided predominance. Mild cerebellar stimulation was also observed. With repeated testing, overall activation with olfactory nerve-mediated odorants declined. Odorants that also stimulated the trigeminal nerve produced additional cingulate, temporal, cerebellar, and occipital activation. Activation with combined trigeminal and olfactory system odors increased more than sixfold with repeated testing. CONCLUSION: Olfactory nerve-mediated and combined olfactory and trigeminal nerve-mediated odorants activate different regions of the brain. Orbitofrontal stimulation spreads to all parts of the brain when a trigeminal component is added. Habituation (deactivation) occurs with repeated testing of olfactory nerve-mediated odorants, while, paradoxically, activation increases with repeated exposure to odors that also stimulate the trigeminal nerve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-838
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain, MR
  • Brain, anatomy
  • Brain, function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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