What is Frontotemporal Dementia?

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Frontotemporal dementia, also known as Pick’s disease, is a group of neurodegenerative diseases that cause a progressive loss of neurons in the nervous system. In frontotemporal dementia, these neurons are mainly lost in the frontal and lateral parts of the brain, known as the frontal and temporal lobes.

Frontotemporal dementia is currently considered a rare disease, probably also because it may be under-diagnosed.
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The brain's frontal and temporal lobes are responsible for our social, executive and linguistic cognitive functions. This is why frontotemporal dementia is characterised by symptoms such as changes in personality and difficulties with language.

Frontotemporal dementias can be classified according to the symptoms of the disease, which may be behavioural problems and/or problems with language (aphasia). Therefore, we can distinguish between three clinical forms:

•    Behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia: characterised by predominant atrophy in the brain's frontal lobes. It involves changes in the patient's personality, behaviour and emotions.

•    Non-fluent/agrammatic variant of primary progressive aphasia: characterised by difficulties with speech and grammar.

•    Semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia: characterised by predominant atrophy of the brain’s left temporal lobe. This leads to patients having problems with understanding words and recognising objects or people.

Furthermore, frontotemporal dementias are closely related to other syndromes that involve motor or movement problems. These include progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal syndrome and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is common for patients with frontotemporal dementia to develop motor problems similar to these diseases as their condition progresses.

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