April 15, 2021

Acquired olfactory loss alters functional connectivity and morphology

Removing function from a developed and functional sensory system is known to alter both cerebral morphology and functional connections. To date, a majority of studies assessing sensory-dependent plasticity have focused on effects from either early onset or long-term sensory loss and little is known how the recent sensory loss affects the human brain. With the aim of determining how recent sensory loss affects cerebral morphology and functional connectivity, we assessed differences between individuals with acquired olfactory loss (duration 7-36 months, n=20) and matched healthy controls (n=23) in their grey matter volume, using multivariate pattern analyses, and functional connectivity, using dynamic connectivity analyses, within and from the olfactory cortex. Our results demonstrate that acquired olfactory loss alters grey matter volume in, among others, posterior piriform cortex, a core olfactory processing area, as well as the inferior frontal gyrus and angular gyrus. In addition, individuals with acquired anosmia displayed significantly stronger dynamic functional connectivity from the posterior piriform cortex to, among others, the angular gyrus, a known multisensory integration area. No significantly stronger connectivity in healthy control participants were demonstrated. When assessing differences in dynamic functional connectivity from the angular gyrus, individuals with acquired anosmia had stronger connectivity from the angular gyrus to areas primary responsible for basic visual and taste processing. These results demonstrate that recently acquired sensory loss alters both cerebral morphology within core olfactory areas and increase dynamic functional connectivity from olfactory cortex to cerebral areas processing multisensory integration.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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