Neural correlates of the mini-SEA (Social cognition and Emotional Assessment) in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia

Brain Imaging Behav. 2014 Mar;8(1):1-6. doi: 10.1007/s11682-013-9261-0.


Although Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, its diagnosis remains particularly challenging today. This is particularly true for the behavioral variant (bvFTD), the most common phenotype of FTD, which is characterised by dramatic changes in personal and social conduct. Novel clinical cognitive tests have been recently proposed to diagnose and assess these patients. Among them, the mini-SEA (Social cognition & Emotional Assessment) has shown promising results. This quick clinical tool evaluates emotion recognition and theory of mind deficits, both recognized as hallmark features of bvFTD. In this study, we investigated the neural correlates of the mini-SEA in twenty bvFTD patients, using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and focusing on the mPFC. Results showed that detection of faux pas during a theory of mind evaluation was related to rostral mPFC perfusion (BA 10) while recognition of emotion involved more dorsal regions within the mPFC (BA 9). As significant and early dysfunction of the mPFC has been extensively described in bvFTD, this study supports the use of the mini-SEA in evaluation and diagnosis purposes in bvFTD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Mapping
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Phenotype
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Psychological Tests*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Theory of Mind / physiology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon