Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
We aimed at investigating social disability and its cerebral correlates in frontotemporal dementia (FTD). To do so, we contrasted answers of patients with early-stage FTD and of their relatives on personality trait judgment and on behavior prediction in social and emotional situations. Such contrasts were compared to control contrasts calculated with answers of matched controls tested with their relatives. In addition, brain metabolism was measured in patients with positron emission tomography and the [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose method. Patients turned out to be as accurate as controls in describing their relative's personality, but they failed to predict their relative's behavior in social and emotional circumstances. Concerning the self, patients were impaired both in current personality assessment and in prediction of their own behavior. Those two self-evaluation measures did not correlate. Only patients' anosognosia for social behavioral disability was found to be related to decreased metabolic activity in the left temporal pole. Such results suggest that anosognosia for social disability in FTD originates in impaired processing of emotional autobiographical information, leading to a self-representation that does not match current behavior. Moreover, we propose that perspective-taking disability participates in anosognosia, preventing patients from correcting their inaccurate self-representation based on their relative's perspective.