Slowed reaction time performance on a divided attention task in elderly with environmental chemical odor intolerance

Iris R. Bell, James K. Wyatt, Richard R. Bootzin, Gary E. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Previous research has suggested an association between the subjective report of illness from environmental chemical odors and poorer cognitive task performance in persons with industrial levels of xenobiotic exposures. The present study investigated baseline morning performance on a computerized divided attention task in active retired adults without occupational exposures or clinical disorders who nonetheless rated themselves currently high versus low in episodic illness from the odor of certain environmental chemicals. The chemically intolerant group showed slower reaction times in registering both centrally and peripherally placed stimuli, but no difference in making target tracking errors. Measures of negative affect did not account for these findings. Taken together with evidence for heightened neurobehavioral sensitization in this population, the data suggest disturbances in allocation of attention and related cognitive functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996



  • Attention
  • Environmental chemical odor intolerance
  • Geriatric
  • Sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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