Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center

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

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

Overall Status: 
No longer recruiting
Brief Description: 

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.

Patient Qualifications: 
Min AgeMax AgeGenderHealthy Volunteers
40 Years
75 Years
Inclusion Criteria: 


  • 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

Exclusion Criteria: 


  • 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)

Detailed Description: 

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.

Map Marker CityStateZip CodeStatusPrimary Contact

Geolocation is 34.070264, -118.4440562

UCLA Department of Neurology
Los Angeles
Michelle Mather, BA
Lead Sponsor: 
University of California, Los Angeles
Collaborator Sponsor: 
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Facility Investigators: 
Mario F. Mendez, MD, PhD
Principal Investigator
University of California, Los Angeles; Veteran's Health Administration, West Los Angeles
Study Contact: 
Jill Shapira, RN, PhD
Locations ID 
NCT01147679 (follow link to view full record on in new window)
Official Title: 
Study of Social Behavior and Emotion in Frontotemporal Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease and Controls
Study Start Date: 
January 2010
Study End Date: 
July 2015
Disease Stage: