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Theory of mind in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bv-FTD): anatomical correlation

Tuesday, October 09, 2012 — Poster Session I

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m

Natcher Conference Center, Building 45




  • A. Brioschi Guevara
  • K.M. Knutson
  • S. Pulaski
  • E. Wassermann
  • J. Grafman
  • F. Krueger


Theory of mind (ToM), defined by the capacity to infer others’ mental states, is frequently impaired in patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bv-FTD). However, limited knowledge exists regarding the neural network of ToM in bv-FTD. To evaluate ToM in bv-FTD patients, we administered the faux pas (FP) task to 28 bv-FTD patients and 19 age, sex and education-matched controls. Patients underwent structural MRIs and a voxel-based morphometry were applied to correlate FP performance with brain atrophy. We found that patients were impaired on the FP task compared to controls. Significant correlations were found between FP performance and atrophy in the right medial and middle prefrontal cortex (PFC), as well as the left premotor cortex (PMC), anterior PMC and supramarginal gyrus. The results confirmed a ToM impairment in bv-FTD, and validated the ToM neural network. In addition, they suggest the possible involvement of the PMC in the FP task, probably due to the presence of the mirror neurons in this area and their role in empathy. More clinically, we think that ToM impairment is an important issue for bv-FTD patients and their caregivers, as it requires a lot of social adjustments that might lead to a very routine-driven life.

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