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Social Behavior and Emotion in Frontotemporal Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, and Controls

Unknown status

This study is designed to document the loss of social and moral emotions (such as empathy, guilt, and embarrassment) in patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). The loss of these emotions, which motivate social behavior, will become evident in specific interpersonal behaviors. These behaviors will correlate with regional changes in the medial frontal and anterior temporal lobes. These social and emotional changes will be compared with those in a young-onset Alzheimer's disease group.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
40 Years 75 Years Both Yes
January 2010
July 2015


++Core diagnostic features of bvFTD or NINCDS-ADRDA criteria for probable Alzheimer's disease++Mild-moderate cognitive and functional severity, defined as MMSE score of 10 or more and CDR of 2.0 or less++Ability to hear and understand instructions and respond to stimuli++English as primary language++Minimally impaired language++Medical stability (defined as absence of medical illness that would interfere with the ability to understand and participate in study procedures)++Caregiver to facilitate participation

Study Partners/Caregivers

++Visits and interaction with the subject at least once a week for 1 hour++Ability to accompany the subject to each visit++Ability to provide opinions about the subject's thinking, daily activities, and behavior++Willingness to share personal information, including feelings of distress about the subject's behavior or feelings of burden by caregiving responsibilities++Ability to read, understand, and speak English fluently


++Neurological or psychiatric illness other than bvFTD or probable Alzheimer's disease++Cortical infarction, other cortical lesion, or significant subcortical lesion on MRI of brain++Prohibited medications: potentially confounding medications, particularly those with effects on the peripheral nervous system, cardiovascular agents, and β-blockers


++Neurological or psychiatric illness++Currently a caregiver for a dementia patient (for at least 1 year)

Frontotemporal dementia is one the most common neurodegenerative diseases in middle age. The most prominent early manifestations of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) are not the memory and other cognitive deficits typical of Alzheimer's disease but disturbance in social or interpersonal behavior. A basic manifestation of this disorder is a disturbance in the emotions and motives that drive social and moral behavior.

This study will help clarify the neurobiological substrates of sociomoral emotions and their associated clinical features. The findings may have major implications for understanding the interaction between the brain and social behavior and for designing future research on the basic mechanisms of social neuroscience.

This research aims to document the loss of sociomoral emotions compared to primary emotions in patients with bvFTD compared with patients with Alzheimer's and normal controls. The project consists of three integrated parts: 1) behavioral measures that include observations in naturalistic settings, behavioral experiments, and behavioral scales; 2) psychophysiological reactivity to social and emotional stimuli (i.e., measures of heart rate, blood pressure changes, galvanic skin response, facial electromyography, and facial temperature); and 3) brain localization of changes in sociomoral emotions with magnetic resonance imaging technology.

Name City State Zip Status Primary Contact
UCLA Department of Neurology
Los Angeles California 90095 Recruiting Michelle Mather, BA

University of California, Los Angeles

  • National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Name Role Affiliation
Mario F. Mendez, MD, PhD Principal Investigator University of California, Los Angeles; Veteran's Health Administration, West Los Angeles

Name Phone Email
Jill Shapira, RN, PhD 310-794-2550


Study of Social Behavior and Emotion in Frontotemporal Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease and Controls