Neural correlates of reduced awareness in instrumental activities of daily living in frontotemporal dementia

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Abstract

A decline in instrumental activities of daily living has been described as the earliest functional deficit in patients with neurodegenerative disease. It embraces specific competencies such as: “recalling the date and telephone calls, orienting to new places, remembering the location of objects at home, understanding conversation and the plot of a movie, keeping belongings in order, doing mental calculations and handling money, remembering appointments and shopping lists and performing clerical work”. Since changes in instrumental daily living activities are one of the descriptors of behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia, we decided to investigate the neural correlates of a reduced awareness in this specific domain in twenty-three consecutive behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia patients. Gray matter volume changes associated with a reduced awareness for the instrumental domain, assessed using a validated caregiver-patient discrepancy questionnaire, were examined. Interestingly, we found disabilities in instrumental daily living activities and a reduced awareness of these to be related to medial prefrontal cortex atrophy, where the mid-cingulate cortices, dorsal anterior insula and cuneous play an important role. Importantly, if the executive system does not function correctly, the comparator mechanism of action self-monitoring does not detect mismatches between the current and previous performance states stored in the personal database, and produces a reduced awareness for the instrumental domain.

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