A descriptive study on constructional impairment in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease

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Background and purpose

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a degenerative disorder characterized, in its frontal variant, by psychiatric onset, deficits in executive functions and sparing of memory and visuo-spatial abilities. Studies on visuo-spatial abilities in FTD and Alzheimer's disease (AD) have mainly focused on constructional abilities (CA) and have yielded contrasting data, often depending either on the task used or biases in the clinical selection of patients. The aim of our study was to evaluate the frequency of the CA impairment in FTD-fv and AD patients at the early stage of the disease, and to verify if some distinctive features of this impairment can characterize each pathology.


The copy-drawing task (Rey Complex Figure, RCF) of 41 patients with probable mild AD and 15 patients with probable mild FTD-fv were analysed by means of quantitative and qualitative indices.


Data showed that both AD and FTD patients displayed similar RCF scores, as well as execution strategies, type of errors and global analysis. The FTD group only had a significant deficit in the analysis of inner details.

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