J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 77:4-7 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2005.072496
  • Paper

Functional neuroimaging and presenting psychiatric features in frontotemporal dementia

  1. M F Mendez1,2,
  2. A McMurtray1,2,
  3. A K Chen2,
  4. J S Shapira1,
  5. F Mishkin3,
  6. B L Miller4
  1. 1Department of Neurology, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA
  2. 2VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles
  3. 3Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
  4. 4The Department of Neurology, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Mario F Mendez
 Neurobehavior (116AF; Bldg 500, 3S), VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare, 11301 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90073, USA; mmendez{at}
  • Received 20 May 2005
  • Accepted 12 July 2005
  • Revised 11 July 2005
  • Published Online First 25 July 2005


Background: Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a behavioural syndrome caused by degeneration of the frontal and anterior temporal lobes. Behavioural disturbances include psychiatric features. Whether patients with FTD present with psychiatric features varies with the initial neuroanatomical variability of FTD.

Objective: To identify presenting psychiatric changes not part of diagnostic criteria of FTD and contrast them with the degree of hemispheric asymmetry and frontal and temporal hypoperfusion on single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging.

Methods: 74 patients who met consensus criteria for FTD were evaluated at a two year follow up. All had brain SPECT on initial presentation. Results of an FTD psychiatric checklist were contrasted with ratings of regional hypoperfusion.

Results: The regions of predominant hypoperfusion did not correlate with differences on FTD demographic variables but were associated with presenting psychiatric features. Dysthymia and anxiety were associated with right temporal hypoperfusion. “Moria” or frivolous behaviour also occurred with temporal lobe changes, especially on the right. The only significant frontal lobe feature was the presence of a peculiar physical bearing in association with right frontal hypoperfusion.

Conclusions: Patients with FTD may present with psychiatric changes distinct from the behavioural diagnostic criteria for this disorder. Early temporal involvement is associated with frivolous behaviour and right temporal involvement is associated with emotional disturbances. In contrast, those with right frontal disease may present with alterations in non-verbal behaviour.


  • Competing interests: none declared

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