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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Divergent patterns of loss of interpersonal warmth in frontotemporal dementia syndromes are predicted by altered intrinsic network connectivity.

  • Author(s): Toller, Gianina
  • Yang, Winson FZ
  • Brown, Jesse A
  • Ranasinghe, Kamalini G
  • Shdo, Suzanne M
  • Kramer, Joel H
  • Seeley, William W
  • Miller, Bruce L
  • Rankin, Katherine P
  • et al.

Loss of warmth is well-documented in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) and semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA) at a group level, and has been linked to salience (SN) and semantic-appraisal (SAN) network atrophy. However, clinical observations of individual patients show much greater heterogeneity, thus measuring this clinical variability and identifying the underlying neurologic mechanisms is a critical step for understanding the symptom profile of any one patient. We used reliable change indexes with premorbid and current informant-based evaluations to characterize patterns of change on the warmth subscale of the Interpersonal Adjective Scale (IAS) questionnaire in 132 patients (21 bvFTD, 19 svPPA, 22 nonfluent variant primary progressive aphasia [nfvPPA], 37 Alzheimer's disease [AD]) and 33 healthy older adults. We investigated whether individual differences in warmth change were reflected in SN or SAN functional connectivity, or structural volume of individual brain regions in these two networks. Though one subset of patients showed significant drop in warmth to abnormally low levels (bvFTD: 38%; svPPA: 21%; nfvPPA: 5%; AD: 11%), a second subset significantly dropped but remained within the clinically normal range (bvFTD: 33%; svPPA: 21%; nfvPPA: 9%; AD: 5%), and a third subset did not drop and stayed in the clinically normal range (bvFTD: 29%; svPPA: 58%; nfvPPA: 86%; AD: 84%). Furthermore, interpersonal warmth score was strongly predicted by SN functional connectivity (p < .01), but not by SAN functional connectivity or by structural volume in these networks. Our results extend earlier group-level findings by showing wide individual variability in degree of disease-related reduction of interpersonal warmth and SN functional connectivity in bvFTD and svPPA, and highlight new approaches to revealing how brain connectivity predicts behavior on an individual patient level. Our findings suggest that measures of interpersonal warmth can provide important clinical information about changes in underlying brain networks, and help clinicians and clinical researchers better identify which bvFTD and svPPA patients are at greater risk for interpersonal disruption.

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