Observational themes of social behavioral disturbances in frontotemporal dementia

International Psychogeriatrics (Impact Factor: 1.93). 05/2014; 26(9):1-7. DOI: 10.1017/S104161021400091X
Source: PubMed


ABSTRACT Background: Caregivers report early disturbances in social behavior among patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD); however, there are few direct observational studies of these social behavioral disturbances. This study aimed to identify social behavioral themes in bvFTD by direct observation in naturalistic interactions. The identification of these themes can help caregivers and clinicians manage the social behavioral disturbances of this disease. Methods: Researchers observed 13 bvFTD patients in their homes and community-based settings and recorded field notes on their interpersonal interactions. A qualitative analysis of their social behavior was then conducted using ATLAS.ti application and a constant comparison method. Results: Qualitative analysis revealed the following themes: (1) diminished relational interest and initiation, indicating failure to seek social interactions; (2) lack of social synchrony/intersubjectivity, indicating an inability to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships; and (3) poor awareness and adherence to social boundaries and norms. These themes corresponded with changes from caregiver reports and behavioral scales. Conclusion: This analysis indicates that real-world observation validates the diagnostic criteria for bvFTD and increases understanding of social behavioral disturbances in this disorder. The results of this and future observational studies can highlight key areas for clinical assessment, caregiver education, and targeted interventions that enhance the management of social behavioral disturbances in bvFTD.

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Available from: Joseph Barsuglia, Aug 12, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Humour is a complex cognitive and emotional construct that is vulnerable in neurodegenerative diseases, notably the frontotemporal lobar degenerations. However, humour processing in these diseases has been little studied. Here we assessed humour processing in patients with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (n = 22, mean age 67 years, four female) and semantic dementia (n = 11, mean age 67 years, five female) relative to healthy individuals (n = 21, mean age 66 years, 11 female), using a joint cognitive and neuroanatomical approach. We created a novel neuropsychological test requiring a decision about the humorous intent of nonverbal cartoons, in which we manipulated orthogonally humour content and familiarity of depicted scenarios. Structural neuroanatomical correlates of humour detection were assessed using voxel-based morphometry. Assessing performance in a signal detection framework and after adjusting for standard measures of cognitive function, both patient groups showed impaired accuracy of humour detection in familiar and novel scenarios relative to healthy older controls (p < .001). Patient groups showed similar overall performance profiles; however the behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia group alone showed a significant advantage for detection of humour in familiar relative to novel scenarios (p = .045), suggesting that the behavioural variant syndrome may lead to particular difficulty decoding novel situations for humour, while semantic dementia produces a more general deficit of humour detection that extends to stock comedic situations. Humour detection accuracy was associated with grey matter volume in a distributed network including temporo-parietal junctional and anterior superior temporal cortices, with predominantly left-sided correlates of processing humour in familiar scenarios and right-sided correlates of processing novel humour. The findings quantify deficits of core cognitive operations underpinning humour processing in frontotemporal lobar degenerations and suggest a candidate brain substrate in cortical hub regions processing incongruity and semantic associations. Humour is a promising candidate tool with which to assess complex social signal processing in neurodegenerative disease. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Cortex