Visuospatial and constructional skills in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease

L. Trojano, N. A. Fragassi, L. Chiacchio, L. Valoroso, R. Tuccillo, C. Perrotta, D. Grossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. Disorders of spatial cognition are very frequent in Alzheimer's disease (AD) even in its early stages, while fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) is reported to be characterized by relative sparing of visuospatial and constructional skills and by specific cognitive impairments in problem-solving abilities and verbal fluency. However, a close scrutiny of available neuropsychological studies reveals that in many instances patients with FTD show visuospatial deficits that are comparable to those of AD patients. These data would cast some doubt on the classical notion of relative sparing of visuospatial abilities in FTD. The aim of the present study was to perform an in-depth assessment of visuoperceptual, visuorepresentational, and constructional skills in two matched samples of FTD and AD patients. Methods. Eight patients fitting Lund and Manchester criteria for FTD were selected from a continuous series of outpatients screened for dementia at the Neuropsychology Lab, Federico II University, Naples. Nine "probable" AD patients matched for age, educational level and general intellectual impairment, as measured by M.M.S.E., were enrolled as control subjects. Both patient groups completed a neuropsychological battery of tests, including tests for verbal and spatial short-term memory and learning, logical-abstract reasoning abilities, and constructional skills. Moreover, both groups were assessed on a specific battery of tests (TERADIC) for visuoperceptual and visuorepresentational abilities. Results. FTD patients performed significantly worse than AD patients on the Stroop test and the Semantic Verbal Fluency test. The two patient groups did not differ in the other neuropsychological measures. In particular, FTD and AD patients achieved similar results on the eight subtests of the TERADIC battery for visuospatial cognition and on two drawing tests. Conclusions. The present study suggests that visuospatial abilities, as measured by paper-and-pencil neuropsychological tests, are impaired to a similar extent in matched samples of FTD and AD patients. These data contribute to the characterization of the cognitive profile in FTD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue number4 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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