The Language Profile of Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia

J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;50(2):359-71. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150806.


Background: The language profile of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) remains to be fully defined.

Objective: We aimed to quantify the extent of language deficits in this patient group.

Methods: We assessed a cohort of patients with bvFTD (n = 24) in relation to patients with semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA; n = 14), nonfluent variant primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA; n = 18), and healthy age-matched individuals (n = 24) cross-sectionally and longitudinally using a comprehensive battery of language and general neuropsychological tests. Neuroanatomical associations of language performance were assessed using voxel-based morphometry of patients' brain magnetic resonance images.

Results: Relative to healthy controls, and after accounting for nonverbal executive performance, patients with bvFTD showed deficits of noun and verb naming and single word comprehension, diminished spontaneous propositional speech, and deterioration in naming performance over time. Within the bvFTD group, patients with MAPT mutations had more severe impairments of noun naming and single word comprehension than patients with C9orf72 mutations. Overall the bvFTD group had less severe language deficits than patients with PPA, but showed a language profile that was qualitatively similar to svPPA. Neuroanatomical correlates of naming and word comprehension performance in bvFTD were identified predominantly in inferior frontal and antero-inferior temporal cortices within the dominant hemispheric language network.

Conclusions: bvFTD is associated with a language profile including verbal semantic impairment that warrants further evaluation as a novel biomarker.

Keywords: Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia; frontotemporal dementia; primary progressive aphasia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aphasia, Primary Progressive / pathology
  • Aphasia, Primary Progressive / psychology*
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Comprehension / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / pathology
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Primary Progressive Nonfluent Aphasia / pathology
  • Primary Progressive Nonfluent Aphasia / psychology*