Relationship Between Odor Identification and Visual Distractors in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Hirokazu Kumazaki
  • Mitsuru Kikuchi
  • Yuko Yoshimura
  • Masutomo Miyao
  • Ken-ichi Okada
  • Masaru Mimura
  • Yoshio Minabe
Letter to the Editor


Understanding the nature of olfactory abnormalities is crucial for optimal interventions in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, previous studies that have investigated odor identification in children with ASD have produced inconsistent results. The ability to correctly identify an odor relies heavily on visual inputs in the general population. We tested odor identification in eight children with ASD and eight age-matched children with typical development (TD). After confirming that all children were able to identify each odor without visual input, we measured odor identification under the visual-distractor condition. Odor identification was hindered by visual distractors for all children with ASD but was not affected in all children with TD. Our results improve understanding of odor identification in ASD.


Autism spectrum disorders Olfactory Odor Identification Visual distractor 



We have no financial relationships to disclose. The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the participants.

Author Contributions

HK designed the study, conducted the experiment, performed the statistical analyses, analyzed and interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript. MK, YY, MMiy, KO, MMim and YM conceived the study, participated in the study design, assisted the data collection and scoring of the behavioural measures, analyzed and interpreted the data, participating in the drafting of the manuscript, and critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content. YM was provided the final approval of the version to be published. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

We have no conflict of interest to declare.

Ethical Approval

All procedures involving human participants were conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Participants were recruited from Kanazawa University and related institutions. After a complete explanation of the study, all the participants and their parents provided written, informed consent. All participants and their parents agreed to participate in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Center for Child Mental DevelopmentKanazawa UniversityKanazawaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Psychosocial MedicineNational Center for Child Health and DevelopmentTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Science and TechnologyKeio UniversityYokohamaJapan
  4. 4.Department of NeuropsychiatryKeio University School of MedicineTokyoJapan

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