Maria Larsson, porträtt.

Maria Larsson


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Arbetar vid Psykologiska institutionen
Telefon 08-16 39 37
Besöksadress Frescati hagväg 9A
Rum 214
Postadress Psykologiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

Om mig

Jag leder forskningsprogrammet Vårt unika doftsinne som finansieras av Riksbankens Jubileumsfond 2015-2020. Programmet inkluderar forskare verksamma vid flera nationella och internationella lärosäten där vi gemensamt undersöker olika aspekter av luktsinnets natur. Av särskilt intresse är att förstå hur våra självbiografiska luktminnen fungerar, varför det är så svårt att namnge dofter, varför vi ofta förlorar luktsinnet tidigt i demenssjukdom, och om blinda har bättre luktsinne än seende.

Mer information om forskningsprogrammet Vårt unika doftsinne.

Efter min doktorsexamen år 1997 vid Karolinska institutet har jag varit anställd vid Uppsala universitet och Stockholms universitet. Sedan april 2009 är jag professor i perception och psykofysik här vid Psykologiska institutionen. Jag undervisar och handleder främst i kognitions- och perceptionspsykologi både på grundutbildningen och på forskarutbildningen. För närvarande handleder jag fyra doktorander.

För en aktuell publikationslista och citeringsindex, se min Google Scholar-sida.


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas
  • 2016. Stina Cornell Kärnekull (et al.). Frontiers in Psychology 7

    Although evidence is mixed, studies have shown that blind individuals perform better than sighted at specific auditory, tactile, and chemosensory tasks. However, few studies have assessed blind and sighted individuals across different sensory modalities in the same study. We tested early blind (n = 15), late blind (n = 15), and sighted (n = 30) participants with analogous olfactory and auditory tests in absolute threshold, discrimination, identification, episodic recognition, and metacognitive ability. Although the multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) showed no overall effect of blindness and no interaction with modality, follow-up between-group contrasts indicated a blind-over-sighted advantage in auditory episodic recognition, that was most pronounced in early blind individuals. In contrast to the auditory modality, there was no empirical support for compensatory effects in any of the olfactory tasks. There was no conclusive evidence for group differences in metacognitive ability to predict episodic recognition performance. Taken together, the results showed no evidence of an overall superior performance in blind relative sighted individuals across olfactory and auditory functions, although early blind individuals exceled in episodic auditory recognition memory. This observation may be related to an experience-induced increase in auditory attentional capacity.

  • 2016. Jonas K. Olofsson (et al.). Neuropsychologia 85, 1-9

    The ɛ4 allele of the Apolipoprotein E gene is a genetic risk factor for late-onset dementia of the Alzheimers' type (DAT), which is characterized by loss of both episodic memoryand olfactory functions. Little is known about the possible role of ɛ4 in the association between ongoing episodic memory decline and olfactory deficits in the general population, but such information is relevant in determining the relevance of olfaction as a marker of DAT risk. The present study was based on a large, population-based sample (n=1087, aged 45–90 years, of which 324 were ɛ4-carriers). Episodic memory change rates were established using data collected every 5 years for a 10–20 year interval leading up to an olfactory assessment using the Scandinavian Odor Identification Test at the last wave of data collection. Participants were classified according to whether or not their episodic memory ability declined more rapidly than the age-typical norm (by >1SD). Our main result is that only in ɛ4-carriers was episodic memory decline associated with odor identification impairment. In individuals without ɛ4, odor identification was unrelated to episodic memory decline status. Follow-up analyses indicated that this moderation by ɛ4 was due to the olfactory nature of the identification test, and that the effect was not caused by 63 individuals with dementia. Our results suggest that the ɛ4 determines the functional association between ongoing episodic memory decline and olfaction. These findings are consistent with the notion that ɛ4-carriers with DAT, compared to non-carriers, display a cortical atrophy pattern that is more focused on mediotemporal lobe regions supporting olfactory and episodic memory functions. Olfactory and memory assessments might provide complementary information on mediotemporal atrophy prior to clinical dementia onset, but the ɛ4 should be considered when using olfactory assessment as an early-stage indicator.

  • 2016. Maria Larsson (et al.). 17th International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste (ISOT2016), Yokohama, Japan, June 5-9, 2016. Chemical Senses, 41(9), E216

    The objective of this study was to examine the association between performance in odor identification and future mortality in a community cohort of adults aged between 40 and 90 years. We assessed olfactory performance with a 13-item-version of the Scandinavian Odor Identification Test (SOIT). The results showed that during follow-up (mean=9.4 years, standard deviation=2.23), 411 of 1774 (23.2%) participants died. In a Cox model, the association between higher SOIT score and mortality was highly significant (hazard ratio [HR]=0.74, per point interval, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.71–0.77, p<0.001). The effect was attenuated, but remained significant after controlling for age, sex, education, and health and cognitive variables that were also associated with an increased risk of mortality (HR=0.92, 95% CI=0.87–0.97, p=0.001). Controlling for dementia conversion prior to death did not attenuate the association between SOIT score and mortality (HR=0.92, 95% CI=0.87–0.97, p=0.001). Similar results were obtained for olfactory sensitivity as assessed by self-report. Overall, the present findings show that poor odor identification performance is associated with an increased likelihood of future mortality in middle-aged and older adults, after controlling for social, cognitive, and medical risk factors. Most importantly, controlling for the development of dementia did not attenuate the association between odor identification and mortality, suggesting that olfactory decline might mark deteriorating health also irrespective of dementia.

  • 2016. Maria Larsson (et al.). Neurobiology of Aging 38, 118-126

    The neuroanatomical organization that underlies olfactory memory is different from that of other memory types. The present work examines olfactory memory in an elderly population-based sample (Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in Kungsholmen) aged 60-100 years (n = 2280). We used structural equation modeling to investigate whether olfactory memory in old age is best conceptualized as a distinct category, differentiated from episodic and semantic memory. Further, potential olfactory dedifferentiation and genetic associations (APOE) to olfactory function in late senescence were investigated. Results are in support of a 3-factor solution where olfactory memory, as indexed by episodic odor recognition and odor identification, is modeled separately from episodic and semantic memory for visual and verbal information. Increasing age was associated with poorer olfactory memory performance, and observed age-related deficits were further exacerbated for carriers of the APOE epsilon 4 allele; these effects tended to be larger for olfactory memory compared to episodic and semantic memory pertaining to other sensory systems (vision, auditory). Finally, stronger correlations between olfactory and episodic memory, indicating dedifferentiation, were observed in the older age groups.

  • 2015. Stina Cornell Kärnekull (et al.). Chemical Senses 40 (4), 259-267

    Few studies have investigated long-term odor recognition memory, although some early observations suggested that the forgetting rate of olfactory representations is slower than for other sensory modalities. This study investigated recognition memory across 64 days for high and low familiar odors and faces. Memory was assessed in 83 young participants at 4 occasions; immediate, 4, 16, and 64 days after encoding. The results indicated significant forgetting for odors and faces across the 64 days. The forgetting functions for the 2 modalities were not fundamentally different. Moreover, high familiar odors and faces were better remembered than low familiar ones, indicating an important role of semantic knowledge on recognition proficiency for both modalities. Although odor recognition was significantly better than chance at the 64 days testing, memory for the low familiar odors was relatively poor. Also, the results indicated that odor identification consistency across sessions, irrespective of accuracy, was positively related to successful recognition.

  • 2017. Rebecka N. Addo (et al.). Perception 46 (3-4), 530-537

    Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are often characterized by atypical sensory behavior (hyper- or hyporeactivity) although evidence is scarce regarding olfactory abilities in ASD; 16 adults with high-functioning ASD (mean age: 38.2, SD: 9.7) and 14 healthy control subjects (mean age: 42.0 years, SD: 12.5) were assessed in odor threshold, free and cued odor identification, and perceived pleasantness, intensity, and edibility of everyday odors. Although results showed no differences between groups, the Bayes Factors (close to 1) suggested that the evidence for no group differences on the threshold and identification tests was inconclusive. In contrast, there was some evidence for no group differences on perceived edibility (BF01 = 2.69) and perceived intensity (BF01 = 2.80). These results do not provide conclusive evidence for or against differences between ASD and healthy controls on olfactory abilities. However, they suggest that there are no apparent group differences in subjective ratings of odors.

  • 2017. Maria Josefsson (et al.). Scientific Reports 7

    Characterizing aging-related decline trajectories in mental abilities, and relationships of the epsilon 4 allele of the Apolipoprotein gene, helps to identify individuals at high risk for dementia. However, longitudinal changes in olfactory and non-olfactory cognitive abilities have not been investigated in relation to the epsilon 4 allele. In the present study, participants from a large population-based study (657 middle-aged and 556 old) were tested over 10 years on their performance on an odor identification task and three non-olfactory cognitive tasks; MMSE, episodic memory, and semantic memory. Our key finding is that in middle-aged participants, odor identification declined twice as fast for epsilon 4/4 homozygotes, compared to non-carriers. However, in old participants, the epsilon 4/4 homozygotes showed an impaired odor identification ability, but they declined at a similar rate as the non-carriers. Furthermore, in old participants all assessments displayed aging-related declines, but exaggerated declines in epsilon 4-carriers were found only in MMSE and episodic memory assessments. In sum, we present evidence that odor identification ability starts to decline already in middle-aged, and that carriers of epsilon 4/4, who are at highest risk of developing dementia, decline twice as fast. Our results may have implications for use of odor identification assessment in detection of early-stage dementia.

Visa alla publikationer av Maria Larsson vid Stockholms universitet

Senast uppdaterad: 15 juni 2017

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