SPLTRAK Abstract Submission
The Impacts of Aging and Military Service on Olfactory and Taste Function
Melissa H W Wong, Alexa J Pullicin, Juyun Lim
Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States

Much of what is known about human aging is based on the World War II generation. Given that a significant portion of men in this cohort served in the military, military service is a hidden variable in aging literature. The primary goal of this study is to understand the impact of military service on olfactory and gustatory function of veterans. More specifically, we investigate the impacts of aging, exposure to warzones, and their interactions on possible deterioration of sensory functions of veterans. Older individuals (> 60 years) who had served in the military were recruited. These individuals were relatively healthy, nonsmokers with no history of PTSD. Civilians of similar health status, age, gender, education, and income level were also recruited. Olfactory function was assessed using the Sniffin’ Sticks method, which includes standardized threshold, discrimination, and identification tasks. Results of the olfactory function test were summed to obtain an overall TDI (Threshold, Discrimination, Identification) score. Taste function was assessed by performing discrimination and identification tasks for four basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter). Our preliminary findings suggest that veterans had lower TDI scores compared to their civilian counterparts. More studies are currently underway to further test the impact of warzone exposure on the sensory functions of veterans.