The sense of smell may be an important clue in a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at the University of Florida ran an experiment designed to test the ability of Alzheimer's patients to detect odors, based on the fact that impaired smell is often one of the first effects of cognitive decline. The main ingredient in the test: peanut butter. The scientists capped subjects nostrils one at a time and observed the distance at which each participant could smell a teaspoon of peanut butter, which was used because its odor does not include any secondary effects like stinging or burning as other smells usually do. They found that in patients who were previously diagnosed with Alzheimer's, the left nostril's sense of smell was significantly more impaired than the right. Control subjects who either didn't suffer from cognitive disability or who had different kinds of cognitive disability didn't exhibit the same discrepancy. The findings could serve as a vital early warning of Alzheimer's, a disease that's difficult to detect in its early stages.
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