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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 2018, Article ID 8187457, 6 pages
https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/8187457
Research Article

Screening for Emotional Expression in Frontotemporal Dementia: A Pilot Study

1VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, CA, USA
2Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
3Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Mario F. Mendez; ude.alcu@zednemm

Received 14 November 2017; Revised 1 January 2018; Accepted 16 January 2018; Published 1 March 2018

Academic Editor: Luigi Trojano

Copyright © 2018 Andrew R. Carr et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Objective. Although emotional blunting is a core feature of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), there are no practical clinical measures of emotional expression for the early diagnosis of bvFTD. Method. Three age-matched groups (bvFTD, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and healthy controls (HC)) of eight participants each were presented with real-life vignettes varying in emotional intensity (high versus low) with either negative or positive outcomes. This study evaluated verbal (self-reports of distress) and visual (presence or absence of facial affect) measures of emotional expression during the vignettes. Results. The bvFTD patients did not differ from the AD and HC groups in reported distress or in the amount of facial affect during vignettes with high emotional intensity or type of outcome. However, the bvFTD patients reported significantly less distress and had correspondingly few facial affective expressions when compared on vignettes of low intensity. Conclusions. Patients with bvFTD require a high intensity of emotional stimulus and are significantly hyporesponsive to low-intensity stimuli. Simple screening or observations of verbal and facial responsiveness to mildly arousing stimuli may aid in differentiating bvFTD from normal subjects and patients with other dementias. Future studies can investigate whether delivering information with high emotional intensity can facilitate communication with patients with bvFTD.