foto: privat

Ingrid Ekström

Biträdande lektor

Om mig

I am Assistant Professor in aging and neuropsychology working in Erika Laukka's research group at the Aging Research Center (ARC), Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society (NVS), Karolinska Institutet. My research interests are focused on mapping trajectories of age-related changes in human cognition and olfaction (the sense of smell) to better understand their determinants and consequences. Before joining ARC in 2018 as postdoctoral researcher, I worked at the Gösta Ekman Laboratory (GEL), Psychology Department, Stockholm university. I obtained my PhD investigating olfactory function in memory decline, dementia, and mortality, based on data from the longitudinal and population-based Betula project. My work at GEL also focused on how smell-based games can be used for brain training. 

In parallel with my research activities, I am coordinator of the weekly scientific seminar series at ARC and regularly teach classes related to cognition, aging, and dementia. Our research group and I accept applications for research internships and student theses on a rolling basis. Please send me an e-mail if you are interested. 



My research is concerned with loss of cognitive and olfactory function in older age, issues that have become of increasing importance in aging societies. More specifically, I am focusing on 3 major research topics: (1) Determinants and consequenes of smell loss in older age; (2) the identification of interindividual differences in olfactory and cognitive decline trajectories in normative aging and dementia; and (3) how differences in these trajectories may best be predicted by peripheral blood biomarkers of for example inflammation or neurodegeneration. 

Since January 2023, I am Principal Investigator of the project  "Harmful consequences of smell loss in old age: a longitudinal population-based study" for which I was awarded SEK 2 850 000 from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (time period: 2023-2026). We know today that aging is often accompanied by significant loss in the sense of smell, olfaction. It is estimated that around 25% of persons aged 60 years and above suffer from olfactory impairment, and prevalence rates increase substantially with age. Still, potentially harmful consequences of smell loss are poorly understood. To investigate potential causal links between smell loss and conditions such as depression, loneliness, and malnutrition, we will make use of data from NEAR, the National E-infrastructure for Aging Research.



Laukka, E. J., Ekström, I., Larsson, M., Grande, G., Fratiglioni, L., & Rizzuto, D. (2023). Markers of olfactory dysfunction and progression to dementia: A 12‐year population‐based study. Alzheimer's & Dementia.

Ekström, I., Rizzuto, D., Grande, G., Bellander, T., & Laukka, E. J. (2022). Environmental Air Pollution and Olfactory Decline in Aging. Environmental health perspectives, 130(2), 27005.

Cedres, N., Aejmelaeus-Lindström, A., Ekström, I., Nordin, S., Xin, L., Persson, J., & Olofsson, J. K. (2022). Subjective impairments in olfaction and cognition predict dissociated behavioural outcomes. The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences, gbac124. Advance online publication.

Dong, Y., Wang, Y., Liu, K., Hou, T., Han, X., Cong, L., Ren, Y., Zhang, Q., Tang, S., Ekström, I., Laukka, E. J., Du, Y., & Qiu, C. (2022). Dementia screening in rural-dwelling Chinese older adults: The utility of a smell test and the self-rated AD8. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society70(4), 1106–1116.

Ekström, I., Vetrano, D. L., Papenberg, G., & Laukka, E. J. (2021). Serum C-Reactive Protein Is Negatively Associated With Olfactory Identification Ability in Older Adults. i-Perception12(2), 20416695211009928.

Olofsson, J. K., Ekström, I., Larsson, M., & Nordin, S. (2021). Olfaction and Aging: A Review of the Current State of Research and Future Directions. i-Perception, 12(3), 20416695211020331.

Dong, Y., Wang, Y., Liu, K., Liu, R., Tang, S., Zhang, Q., Ekström, I., Laukka, E. J., Du, Y., & Qiu, C. (2021). Olfactory Impairment Among Rural-Dwelling Chinese Older Adults: Prevalence and Associations With Demographic, Lifestyle, and Clinical Factors. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 13, 621619.

Ekström, I., Larsson, M., Rizzuto, D., Fastbom, J., Bäckman, L., & Laukka, E. J. (2020). Predictors of Olfactory Decline in Aging: A Longitudinal Population-Based Study. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 75(12), 2441–2449.

†Shared first authorship

Olofsson, J. K., Ekström, I., Lindström, J., Syrjänen, E., Stigsdotter-Neely, A., Nyberg, L., Jonsson, S., & Larsson, M. (2020). Smell-Based Memory Training: Evidence of Olfactory Learning and Transfer to the Visual Domain. Chemical senses, 45(7), 593–600.

Hörberg, T., Larsson, M., Ekström, I., Sandöy, C., Lundén, P., & Olofsson, J. K. (2020). Olfactory Influences on Visual Categorization: Behavioral and ERP Evidence. Cerebral cortex30(7), 4220–4237.

Ekström, I., Josefsson, M., Larsson, M., Rönnlund, M., Nordin, S., & Olofsson, J. K. (2019). Subjective Olfactory Loss in Older Adults Concurs with Long-Term Odor Identification Decline. Chemical senses, 44(2), 105–112.

Liuzza, M. T., Lindholm, T., Hawley, C. B., Gustafsson Sendén, M., Ekström, I., Olsson, M. J., & Olofsson, J. K. (2018). Body odour disgust sensitivity predicts authoritarian attitudes. Royal Society open science, 5(2), 171091.

Olofsson, J. K., Syrjänen, E., Ekström, I., Larsson, M., & Wiens, S. (2018). "Fast" versus "slow" word integration of visual and olfactory objects: EEG biomarkers of decision speed variability. Behavioral neuroscience132(6), 587–594.

Ekström, I., Sjölund, S., Nordin, S., Nordin Adolfsson, A., Adolfsson, R., Nilsson, L. G., Larsson, M., & Olofsson, J. K. (2017). Smell Loss Predicts Mortality Risk Regardless of Dementia Conversion. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 65(6), 1238–1243.

Olofsson, J. K., Josefsson, M., Ekström, I., Wilson, D., Nyberg, L., Nordin, S., Nordin Adolfsson, A., Adolfsson, R., Nilsson, L. G., & Larsson, M. (2016). Long-term episodic memory decline is associated with olfactory deficits only in carriers of ApoE-є4. Neuropsychologia85, 1–9.

Stanciu, I., Larsson, M., Nordin, S., Adolfsson, R., Nilsson, L. G., & Olofsson, J. K. (2014). Olfactory impairment and subjective olfactory complaints independently predict conversion to dementia: a longitudinal, population-based study. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS20(2), 209–217.









Assistant Professor in Psychology 2023, Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institutet

Postdoctoral Researcher 2018 to 2022, Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institutet

PhD in Psychology 2018, Stockholm university

MSc in Psychology 2013, Stockholm university

BSc in Psychology 2010, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität Bonn, Germany

Akademiska priser och utmärkelser

My thesis "Human olfaction: Associations with longitudinal assessment of episodic memory, dementia, and mortality risk" was awarded with the prize for best doctoral thesis at the Psychology Department in 2018.