Odor identification ability predicts executive function deficits following sleep deprivation

William D.S. Killgore, Desiree B. Killgore, Nancy L. Grugle, Thomas J. Balkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Odor identification ability is sensitive to prefrontal lobe dysfunction and preliminary evidence suggests that this capacity may decline with prolonged wakefulness. We hypothesized that declines in odor identification during a single night of sleep loss might, therefore, be predictive of prefrontal lobe executive function deficits following an additional night of sleep deprivation. Change scores between two administrations of the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (SIT) during 24 hr of sleep deprivation were used to predict performance on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) following 45 hr of wakefulness in 54 healthy adults. Declines in SIT performance predicted poorer performance on the WCST following an additional night of sleep loss. These findings suggest that individual differences in vulnerability to the effects of sleep loss on odor identification ability are predictive of deficits in executive functioning following additional wakefulness. Odor identification ability may provide an unobtrusive method for assessing vulnerability to sleep deprivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-334
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Executive function
  • Odor identification
  • Olfaction
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Smell Identification Test
  • Wisconsin Card Sorting Test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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