Olfactory training as a new treatment in Olfactory impairments: an fMRI study

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The development of neuroimaging techniques allows the exploration of patients in a non-invasive way and more complex diagnostics. Among these techniques we find Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). MRI allows the obtaining of detailed anatomical images with high contrast between similar tissues, such as grey and white matter, due to their specific composition. On the other hand fMRI produces images that reflect the local changes in brain activity, thus functional images. Magnetic Resonance Equipment can perform the acquisition of both types of images allowing the performance of an anatomical and a functional study within the same exploration. Combining these two techniques we obtain brain activation maps for a single subject. The activation maps are useful for assessing brain damage, studying the brain areas that control specific tasks or evaluating neurorehabilitation treatments. This provides objective information for a better diagnostic. On the other hand, the olfaction is a chemical sense traditionally less studied compared with vision and audition, and besides, the fact that its associated problems and symptoms generally appear progressively leads to giving less importance to it. Another reason is the difficulty to implement olfactory stimulation due to incompatibilities with actual medical imaging equipment and the lack of control in the stimulus presentation, in terms of duration and intensity. This last issue complicates the correlation between the initial stimulus and the associated response. Furthermore, in the case of olfactory impairments, such as anosmia that can have several causes, the clinical evaluation sometimes is subjective and the patient’s response depends on his emotional state. The application of objective assessment techniques such as fMRI can bring light to the knowledge of this type of pathologies and, in addition, we can measure the efficacy of new treatments.
functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Neuroimaging techniques, Olfaction
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