Patients with autopsy-confirmed frontotemporal dementia (FTD; n = 16) and Alzheimer's disease (AD; n = 32) were compared on first-letter and semantic category fluency tasks. Despite being matched on age, education, and dementia severity, FTD patients performed worse overall and showed similar impairment in letter and semantic category fluency, whereas AD patients showed greater impairment in semantic category than letter fluency. A measure of the disparity between letter and semantic category fluency (the semantic index) was effective in differentiating FTD from AD patients, and this disparity increased with increasing severity of dementia. These unique patterns of letter and semantic category fluency deficits may be indicative of differences in the relative contribution of frontal-lobe-mediated retrieval deficits and temporal-lobe-mediated semantic deficits in FTD and AD.
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