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Olfactory Dysfunction in Schizophrenia: Evaluating Olfactory Abilities Across Species.

Though understudied relative to perturbations in the auditory and visual domains, olfactory dysfunction is a common symptom of schizophrenia. Over the past two decades, the availability of standardized assessments to quantify human olfactory abilities, and enhance understanding of the neurophysiology supporting olfaction, has increased, enabling a more thorough characterization of these deficits. In contrast to other psychiatric conditions for which olfactory dysfunction has been observed (e.g., major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's disease), the impairments observed in schizophrenia are particularly global and profound. At this level, such deficits in olfactory abilities likely impact the enjoyment of food, detection of environmental hazards, and influence social relationships. More broadly, the study of olfactory phenotypes in schizophrenia presents new avenues for detection of those at-risk for the condition, identification of therapeutic targets for treatment development, and for the characterization of novel animal models relevant to schizophrenia and psychosis. This review will consider the olfactory performance of individuals with schizophrenia in domains for which standardized assessments are available (odor sensitivity, discrimination, identification, and memory). Paradigms available for assessing these abilities in rodents will also be discussed with the aim of facilitating translation. Thus, future studies will be able to include cross-species translation of mechanisms relevant to olfactory function and cognition, what has gone awry in the disease state, and test potential therapeutics.

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