Frontal lobe function and behavioral changes in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a study from Southwest China

J Neurol. 2014 Dec;261(12):2393-400. doi: 10.1007/s00415-014-7508-3. Epub 2014 Sep 24.


Despite growing interest, the frequency and characteristics of frontal lobe functional and behavioral deficits in Chinese people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), as well as their impact on the survival of ALS patients, remain unknown. The Chinese version of the frontal assessment battery (FAB) and frontal behavioral inventory (FBI) were used to evaluate 126 sporadic ALS patients and 50 healthy controls. The prevalence of frontal lobe dysfunction was 32.5%. The most notable impairment domain of the FAB was lexical fluency (30.7%). The binary logistic regression model revealed that an onset age older than 45 years (OR 5.976, P = 0.002) and a lower educational level (OR 0.858, P = 0.002) were potential determinants of an abnormal FAB. Based on the FBI score, 46.0% of patients showed varied degrees of frontal behavioral changes. The most common impaired neurobehavioral domains were irritability (25.4%), logopenia (20.6%) and apathy (19.0%). The binary logistic regression model revealed that the ALS Functional Rating Scale-Revised scale score (OR 0.127, P = 0.001) was a potential determinant of an abnormal FBI. Frontal functional impairment and the severity of frontal behavioral changes were not associated with the survival status or the progression of ALS by the cox proportional hazard model and multivariate regression analyses, respectively. Frontal lobe dysfunction and frontal behavioral changes are common in Chinese ALS patients. Frontal lobe dysfunction may be related to the onset age and educational level. The severity of frontal behavioral changes may be associated with the ALSFRS-R. However, the frontal functional impairment and the frontal behavioral changes do not worsen the progression or survival of ALS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Asians
  • China
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Severity of Illness Index

Supplementary concepts

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 1