Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 107-107


  • Brady I. PhelpsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, South Dakota State University


In general, the term anosmia is used to refer to the inability to discriminate or detect qualitatively different olfactory sensations, or in simpler terms, an absence of one’s sense of or ability to smell [6, 19]. Related terms include partial or specific anosmia, which refer to deficient ability to detect a specific odorous stimulus or a limited class of odorous stimuli [6, 10, 19]. A fairly large number of specific anosmias have been identified [1, 10]. The terms hyposmia or microsmia have also been used to label instances of decreased sensitivity to odorous stimuli [19, 22].

As with most any trait or ability, individuals show variability in their capacity to smell [9]. Some deficits in our olfactory sense are probably normal [4] and it is generally agreed that females report more acute sensitivity to odors than males [3, 12]. It is also reported that a likely majority of humans will experience measurable deficits in their olfactory sense as a function of aging [6] ...

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