A significant proportion of patients with presenile dementia due to primary cerebral atrophy do not have Alzheimer's disease. One form of non-Alzheimer dementia may be designated as dementia of frontal lobe type (DFT), on the basis of a characteristic neuropsychological picture suggestive of frontal lobe disorder, confirmed by findings on single photon emission tomography. The case histories of seven patients exemplify the disorder: a presentation of social misconduct and personality change, unconcern and disinhibition, in the presence of physical well-being and few neurological signs. Assessment revealed economic and concrete speech with verbal stereotypes, variable memory impairment, and marked abnormalities on tasks sensitive to frontal lobe function. Visuo-spatial disorder was invariably absent. Comparisons of DFT and Alzheimer patients revealed qualitative differences in clinical presentation, neurological signs, profile of psychological disability, electroencephalography, single photon emission tomography and demography. DFT, which may represent forms of Pick's disease, may be more common than is often recognised.
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