Emotion, social functioning and activities of daily living in frontotemporal dementia

Neurocase. 2009 Jun;15(3):182-9. doi: 10.1080/13554790802632892.


Social functioning in FTD is profoundly affected, and forms the basis for the clinical diagnosis of the behavioural variant of the disease (bv-FTD). In particular, there are deficits in emotional processing, but the inter-relationship of such deficits to other aspects of social functioning remains unclear. We studied patients with bv-FTD (n = 14) and AD (n = 14), and compared their performance on a test of emotion recognition with their scores on two carer-based assessments: the Disability Assessment for Dementia (DAD) of activities in daily living (ADL), and the Cambridge Behavioural Inventory (CBI). The bv-FTD group had significantly greater impairments in ADLs, and had higher scores on the CBI, compared to the AD group. Despite a deficit in emotion recognition, particularly involving negative emotions, in the FTD group relative to AD and controls, performance on this task did not correlate with ADL ratings which instead, correlated highly with carer-rated apathy levels on the CBI. The study highlights the multifactorial nature of social dysfunction in FTD which is important in the management of these patients and in designing effective behavioural and therapeutic interventions. The relationship of emotional processing to other aspects of social cognition in FTD is reviewed.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology*
  • Affective Symptoms / diagnosis
  • Affective Symptoms / etiology
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Empathy / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / complications
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / diagnosis
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychology
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Social Behavior Disorders / etiology
  • Social Behavior Disorders / psychology*