Frontotemporal dementia, music perception and social cognition share neurobiological circuits: A meta-analysis

Brain Cogn. 2021 Mar:148:105660. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2020.105660. Epub 2021 Jan 7.


Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a neurodegenerative disease that presents with profound changes in social cognition. Music might be a sensitive probe for social cognition abilities, but underlying neurobiological substrates are unclear. We performed a meta-analysis of voxel-based morphometry studies in FTD patients and functional MRI studies for music perception and social cognition tasks in cognitively normal controls to identify robust patterns of atrophy (FTD) or activation (music perception or social cognition). Conjunction analyses were performed to identify overlapping brain regions. In total 303 articles were included: 53 for FTD (n = 1153 patients, 42.5% female; 1337 controls, 53.8% female), 28 for music perception (n = 540, 51.8% female) and 222 for social cognition in controls (n = 5664, 50.2% female). We observed considerable overlap in atrophy patterns associated with FTD, and functional activation associated with music perception and social cognition, mostly encompassing the ventral language network. We further observed overlap across all three modalities in mesolimbic, basal forebrain and striatal regions. The results of our meta-analysis suggest that music perception and social cognition share neurobiological circuits that are affected in FTD. This supports the idea that music might be a sensitive probe for social cognition abilities with implications for diagnosis and monitoring.

Keywords: Frontotemporal dementia; Insula; Music perception; Social cognition; Ventral language pathway.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Dementia*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Music*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*
  • Social Cognition