Traumatic brain injury assessed with olfactory event-related brain potentials

Mark W. Geisler, Christina R. Schlotfeldt, Christina B. Middleton, Mario F. Dulay, Claire Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Olfactory event-related potentials (OERPs) were evaluated to develop an objective, quantitative assessment of sensory and cognitive olfactory loss following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Subjects included 25 TBI patients and 25 age/gender-matched healthy controls. Following standard clinical evaluation of smell function, TBI patients were divided into three groups: 12 anosmics (loss of smell), 6 hyposmics (reduced smell), and 7 normosmics (normal smell). Cognitive ability was assessed using the Trail Making Test (A and B). OERPs were recorded monopolarly from midline electrode sites using an amyl acetate stimulus with a 60-second interstimulus interval; subjects estimated the magnitude of each odor stimulus. Anosmic TBI patients were also tested with OERPs using ammonia to ensure trigeminal nerve function. Amyl acetate OERPs demonstrated that the sensory N1 and P2 amplitudes and the cognitive P3 amplitudes were absent in the anosmic TBI patients and greatly reduced in the hyposmic and normosmic TBI patients compared to healthy controls. The trigeminal OERPs from the anosmic TBI patients were within normal limits, indicating that the primary olfactory deficits were objectively measured with OERPs. The relationship between the OERPs and neuropsychologic test performance supports the cognitive loss associated with TBI. The present study lends support to the utility of OERPs as an objective tool for measuring sensory and cognitive loss after traumatic brain injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Head trauma
  • Olfactory
  • Olfactory event-related potential (OERP)
  • Trigeminal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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