Jonas Olofsson Foto: Psykologiska institutionen/HB

Jonas Olofsson

Docent, universitetslektor

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Works at Department of Psychology
Telephone 08-16 38 40
Visiting address Frescati hagväg 9A
Room 213a
Postal address Psykologiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

My research and teaching involves perception, memory and emotion, with a focus on how the sense of smell, olfaction, affects these processes. My research team investigates whether olfaction provides an early marker for dementia, why it is so hard to name smells, if smell-based video games can be used for brain training, and how odors might affect social processes. To address these issues, we use a variety of behavioral and brain activity methods. For an updated list of publications and citations, please visit my Google Scholar page.


I received my PhD in 2008 at Umeå University and was appointed as docent at Stockholm University in 2009. I conducted research at Northwestern University (Chicago, 2009-2011), The Scripps Research Institute (San Diego, 2005-2006) and at Karolinska Insitutet (Stockholm, 2009). Since 2012, I am affiliated with The Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in Uppsala. Since 2016, I am adjunct associate professor at New York University School of Medicine. My research is supported by the Swedish Research Council, The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences, and by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.


Odor identification in aging and dementia: Influences of cognition and the ApoE gene. Doctoral dissertation from the Department of Psychology, Umeå University. ISBN 978-91-7264-652-0

Awards and honors

Wallenberg Academy Fellow (since 2016), a carreer programme that provides long-term funding for the most promising young researchers of all disciplines.

Fellow of the Young Academy of Sweden (since 2015), an independent, cross-disciplinary forum for some of the most promising young researchers in Sweden across all academic disciplines.

Fellow of Pro Futura Scientia (since 2012), a research programme for especially promising young researchers in the humanities and social sciences.

Recipient of the 2010 prize to young researchers in Psychology by the Swedish National Committee for Psychological Sciences (a branch of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences) after receiving nominations from Umeå and Stockholm Universities.

The Fulker award (2009) for best article in the journal Behavior Genetics:
Olofsson, J.K., Rönnlund, M., Nordin, S., Nilsson, L-G., Nyberg, L., & Larsson, M. (2009). Odor identification deficit as a predictor of five-year global cognitive change: Interactive effects with age and ApoE-e4. Behavior Genetics, 39, 496-503.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 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. Veit Kubik (et al.). Journal of Cognitive Psychology 28 (2), 209-219

    Testing memory typically enhances subsequent re-encoding of information (“indirect” testing effect) and, as compared to restudy, it also benefits later long-term retention (“direct” testing effect). We investigated the effect of testing on subsequent restudy and 1-week retention of action events (e.g. “water the plant”). In addition, we investigated if the type of recall practice (noun-cued vs. verb-cued) moderates these testing benefits. The results showed an indirect testing effect that increased following noun-cued recall of verbs as compared to verb-cued recall of nouns. In contrast, a direct testing effect on the forgetting rate of performed actions was not reliably observed, neither for noun- nor verb-cued recall. Thus, to the extent that this study successfully dissociated direct and indirect testing-based enhancements, they seem to be differentially effective for performed actions, and may rely on partially different mechanisms.

  • 2016. Petter Kallioinen (et al.). Frontiers in Psychology 7

    Difficulties in auditory and phonological processing affect semantic processing in speech comprehension for deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children. However, little is known about brain responses related to semantic processing in this group. We investigated event-related potentials (ERPs) in DHH children with cochlear implants (CIs) and/or hearing aids (HAs), and in normally hearing controls (NH). We used a semantic priming task with spoken word primes followed by picture targets. In both DHH children and controls, cortical response differences between matching and mismatching targets revealed a typical N400 effect associated with semantic processing. Children with CI had the largest mismatch response despite poor semantic abilities overall; Children with CI also had the largest ERP differentiation between mismatch types, with small effects in within-category mismatch trials (target from same category as prime) and large effects in between-category mismatch trials (where target is from a different category than prime), compared to matching trials. Children with NH and HA had similar responses to both mismatch types. While the large and differentiated ERP responses in the CI group were unexpected and should be interpreted with caution, the results could reflect less precision in semantic processing among children with CI, or a stronger reliance on predictive processing.

  • 2015. Jonas Olofsson, Johan Örestig.
Show all publications by Jonas Olofsson at Stockholm University

Last updated: November 21, 2018

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