Occupation has been associated with cognitive reserve in healthy aging and Alzheimer's disease. Here we assess the relationship between cerebral metabolic deficits in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) and occupation characteristics. Using factor analysis, we derived verbal, physical and visuospatial occupation scores from the US Department of Labor, Occupational Information Network and related these scores to regional cerebral metabolic rate of glucose utilization in 31 patients diagnosed with behavioral variant bvFTD, controlling for cognitive status (CERAD neuropsychological assessment battery), gender and education. Regression analyses showed a marked inverse association between glucose metabolism and (a) verbal occupation scores in left prefrontal cortex and, (b) physical occupation characteristics in right supplementary motor area. We concluded that, consistent with the cognitive reserve hypothesis, lifelong occupation characteristics are related to focal cerebral metabolic deficits in bvFTD. Specific occupation demands spanning decades may strengthen cognitive resistance to pathology.
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