Frontotemporal dementia: patient characteristics, cognition, and behaviour

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2002 Oct;17(10):914-8. doi: 10.1002/gps.709.


Objectives: To describe sociodemographic data of patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), to compare the cognitive profile of patients with FTD with that of severity-matched patients with Alzheimer's disease using the CERAD neuropsychological battery (CERAD-NP), to investigate the frequency of behavioural disturbances, and to examine the relation between FTD-specific non-cognitive behavioural symptoms of patients with FTD with age and sex.

Methods: Fifty outpatients were diagnosed with FTD according to the Lund-Manchester consensus criteria. Cognitive impairment was assessed in 30 patients using the CERAD-NP. Severity of dementia was rated on the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR). Eleven non-cognitive symptoms were rated by severity. To compare CERAD-NP results between patients with FTD and AD, 30 patients with AD were matched for age, sex, and global severity of cognitive performance.

Results: The average age at onset of first symptoms was 57.8 years. Eighteen patients (36%) had a positive family history of dementia. On the CERAD-NP patients with FTD performed significantly better than patients with AD on word list learning, delayed verbal recall and visuoconstruction (p < 0.05). There were no significant differences between FTD and AD on naming and verbal fluency tasks. The most frequent non-cognitive behavioural symptoms in FTD were loss of insight, speech abnormality, and apathy. Non-cognitive behavioural symptoms were more frequent in younger and in male than in older patients and in female patients.

Conclusions: The CERAD-NP is a valuable clinical instrument for the cognitive evaluation of patients with suspected FTD. Complementary short tests of attention and executive function may be recommended. To enhance diagnostic sensitivity informant interviews should focus on non-cognitive behavioural changes, taking advantage of standardised questionnaires.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index