The behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) is the most common type of frontotemporal degeneration. It is characterised by progressive cell loss (atrophy) in the frontal and anterior temporal regions of the brain leading to alterations in complex thinking, personality and behaviour.
Typical symptoms can include
- Behavioural disinhibition - disinhibition is the hallmark feature of bvFTD and can manifest as socially inappropriate behaviour (eg inappropriately approaching or touching strangers), loss of manners or decorum (eg violation of personal space, rude or offensive remarks), or impulsive, rash or careless actions (eg reckless buying or selling).
- Apathy / inertia - people with bvFTD may exhibit a general loss of interest, drive or motivation. In extreme cases, they may need prompts to initiate or continue basic activities (eg bathing, dressing).
- Loss of empathy - people with bvFTD may seem emotionally cold or detached and can exhibit an overt disregard for others pain or distress.
- Perseverative / compulsive behaviours - these can range from simple repetitive behaviours such as tapping, scratching or picking, to complex compulsive behaviours such ordering, cleaning or collecting.
- Changes in eating habits - dietary changes can range from altered food preferences or 'food fads' (eg only eating a particular type of food) to indiscriminate binge eating and weight gain.
- Executive dysfunction - due to cell loss in their frontal lobes, people with bvFTD exhibit deficits in complex thinking or 'executive functions' such as planning, organising, mental flexibility and generation of ideas.
Ian is living with bvFTD, read his story here.