Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Distinctive Neuropsychological Patterns in Frontotemporal Dementia, Semantic Dementia, And Alzheimer Disease

Kramer, Joel H. PsyD; Jurik, Jennifer MA; Sha, Sharon J. MS; Rankin, Kate P. PhD; Rosen, Howard J. MD; Johnson, Julene K. PhD; Miller, Bruce L. MD

Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology: December 2003 - Volume 16 - Issue 4 - p 211-218
Experimental Studies

Objective To assess the ability of a brief neuropsychological bedside screening battery to discriminate between Alzheimer disease, frontotemporal dementia, and semantic dementia.

Methods Subjects were 21 patients with frontotemporal dementia, 14 patients with semantic dementia, and 30 patients with Alzheimer disease comparable in terms of Mini Mental Status Examination score, age, and education. Frontotemporal dementia and semantic dementia diagnoses were made clinically using the consensus criteria of Neary et al. 1 Subjects were administered a brief neuropsychological screening assessing episodic memory, working memory, executive function, naming, spatial ability, abstract reasoning, and calculations.

Results Both the Alzheimer disease and semantic dementia groups were significantly impaired relative to the frontotemporal dementia group on verbal memory, whereas only the Alzheimer disease group was impaired on visual memory. Frontotemporal dementia patients performed significantly worse on backward digit span and made significantly more executive errors than Alzheimer disease and semantic dementia patients. Semantic dementia patients were more impaired than Alzheimer disease and frontotemporal dementia patients on confrontation naming. Discriminant function analyses identified the 5 most discriminating variables that correctly classified 89.2% of cases.

Conclusions Frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia, and Alzheimer disease are associated with distinct neuropsychological profiles that classify these dementia syndromes with considerable success. The neuropsychological profiles highlight the distinctiveness between the 3 syndromes, are consistent with the known loci of neuropathology in these conditions, and can potentially serve as an adjunct to the current clinical criteria.

University of California Medical Center, San Francisco, California, USA.

Received April 22, 2003;

revised June 26, 2003; accepted July 21, 2003.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Joel Kramer, PsyD, University of California, San Francisco, Campus Box 0984-PAC, 401 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143; E-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.