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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 70:323-332 doi:10.1136/jnnp.70.3.323
  • Paper

Distinct behavioural profiles in frontotemporal dementia and semantic dementia

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To test predictions that frontotemporal dementia and semantic dementia give rise to distinct patterns of behavioural change.

METHODS An informant based semistructured behavioural interview, covering the domains of basic and social emotions, social and personal behaviour, sensory behaviour, eating and oral behaviour, repetitive behaviours, rituals, and compulsions, was administered to carers of 41 patients with semantic dementia and with apathetic (FTD-A) and disinhibited (FTD-D) forms of frontotemporal dementia.

RESULTS Consistent with prediction, emotional changes differentiated FTD from semantic dementia. Whereas lack of emotional response was pervasive in FTD, it was more selective in semantic dementia, affecting particularly the capacity to show fear. Social avoidance occurred more often in FTD and social seeking in semantic dementia. Patients with FTD showed reduced response to pain, whereas patients with semantic dementia more often showed exaggerated reactions to sensory stimuli. Gluttony and indiscriminate eating were characteristic of FTD, whereas patients with semantic dementia were more likely to exhibit food fads. Hyperorality, involving inedible objects, was unrelated to gluttony, indicating different underlying mechanisms. Repetitive behaviours were common in both FTD and semantic dementia, but had a more compulsive quality in semantic dementia. Behavioural differences were greater between semantic dementia and FTD-A than FTD-D. A logistic regression analysis indicated that emotional and repetitive, compulsive behaviours discriminated FTD from semantic dementia with 97% accuracy.

CONCLUSION The findings confirm predictions regarding behavioural differences in frontotemporal and semantic dementia and point to differential roles of the frontal and temporal lobes in affect, social functioning, eating, and compulsive behaviour.

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