The Association Between Mental Health and Olfactory Function

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychological Science

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. April S. Masarik


A relationship between olfactory function and depressive/anxiety disorders has been established in rodent studies; however, fewer studies have investigated this relationship in humans. Odor discrimination has been found to be impaired in individuals with higher levels of anxiety and depression. Additionally, these individuals tend to rate negative stimuli as more intense than healthy controls.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the association between olfactory function and levels of anxiety, measured by the Beck’s Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and depression, measured by the Beck’s Depression Inventory (BDI). We hypothesize that individuals with higher levels of anxiety and/or depression will demonstrate lower odor discrimination compared to individuals who report lower levels of anxiety and/or depression. Furthermore, we anticipate that among participants with higher levels of anxiety and/or depression, unpleasantly perceived odors will be rated as more intense than pleasant odors. We recruited non-smoking, physically healthy undergraduate students (N = 30) to complete a measure of olfactory function using Sniffin’ Sticks, the BDI, and the BAI. We will conduct correlational analyses at the end of March and results will be ready for presentation by April 15th. Findings will shed light on the biological underpinnings of anxiety and depression.

This document is currently not available here.