This Is Your Brain With a Cold
Interesting news this week – a study has found that your brain activity actually changes appreciably when you’re congested. Scientists at Northwestern University created an experiment to deprive people of olfactory input for several days. Voila: the brain adjusted in its typically elastic way to compensate for this lack of sensory input:
For the study, 14 participants were asked to stay in a special low-odor hospital room for a week. Researchers found that smell deprivation led to changes in certain areas of the brain. There was an increase in activity in the orbital frontal cortex and decrease in the activity in the piriform cortex. Both the areas are known to be associated with the sense of smell.
Leave aside the fact that ideally, every hospital room would be “low odor” – what’s fascinating about this study is that it underlines how much your brain does to make sense of odors. And the brain bounces back too: Within a week of returning to the world, scans showed that these subjects were once again back to normal.
So if you have a tendency to feel down, or thick-headed, or otherwise impaired when you have a cold, take heart. Your mind really does change in physical ways when you lose that sense of smell, and scientists are just beginning to understand how. The takeaway is simple: If you have persistent congestion or chronic sinus symptoms, contact an expert ENT today to learn more