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J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 1997 Oct;10(4):154-7.

Compulsive behaviors as presenting symptoms of frontotemporal dementia.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of California at Los Angeles, USA.


Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a common neurodegenerative dementia syndrome. Compulsive behaviors frequently occur in FTD and may be presenting symptoms of this disorder. This study evaluated compulsive behaviors as presenting symptoms in 29 patients with FTD compared to 48 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) enrolled in the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Center. The FTD patients met the Lund and Manchester criteria for FTD and had predominant frontal hypoperfusion on single-photon emission computer tomography neuroimaging. The AD patients met National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders-Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders criteria for clinically probable AD. Compulsive behaviors occurred in 11 FTD patients (38%) versus 5 AD patients (10%) (chi2 = 6.73, P < .01). This difference persisted after controlling for the younger age of the FTD group. There was a range of compulsive behaviors, with the most frequent being repetitive checking activities. Compulsive behaviors are common presenting symptoms among FTD patients and may result from an inability to inhibit urges to perform compulsive movements from damage to frontal-striatal circuits.

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