Apathy and disinhibition in frontotemporal dementia: Insights into their neural correlates

G. Zamboni, E. D. Huey, F. Krueger, P. F. Nichelli, J. Grafman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

232 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Aberrant social behavior is a defining symptom of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and may eventually occur in all syndromes composing the FTD spectrum. Two main behavioral abnormalities have been described: apathy and disinhibition, but their neuroanatomical correlates remain underspecified. METHODS: Sixty-two patients with a clinical diagnosis of FTD participated in the study. Voxel-based morphometry of MRI data was performed to explore the association between gray matter loss and severity of the two behavioral profiles as measured by the Apathy and Disinhibition subscales of the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale. RESULTS: Compared with a group of controls, the FTD group showed extensive bilateral atrophy predominantly involving frontal and temporal lobes. Within the FTD group, the severity of apathy correlated with atrophy in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The severity of disinhibition correlated with atrophy in the right nucleus accumbens, right superior temporal sulcus, and right mediotemporal limbic structures. CONCLUSIONS: Prefrontal and temporal regions are differentially associated with apathy and disinhibition. Our results support the view that successful execution of complex social behaviors relies on the integration of social knowledge and executive functions, represented in the prefrontal cortex, and reward attribution and emotional processing, represented in mesolimbic structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-742
Number of pages7
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 2 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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