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Neuropsychology. 2012 Jan;26(1):81-90. doi: 10.1037/a0025318. Epub 2011 Sep 5.

The SEA (Social cognition and Emotional Assessment): a clinical neuropsychological tool for early diagnosis of frontal variant of frontotemporal lobar degeneration.

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INSERM-UPMC UMRS 975, Federation de Neurologie, AP-HP Hopital de la Pitie-Salpetriere, Universite Paris, France.



The frontal variant of frontotemporal degeneration (fvFTD) is characterized by a predominant behavioral syndrome, which is mostly attributable to an orbital-medial prefrontal dysfunction. The orbital and ventral medial prefrontal functions in humans are difficult to assess in clinical practice. Here, we propose a new tool, the SEA (Social cognition and Emotional Assessment), for use in evaluating the functions of the orbital and ventral-medial portions of the prefrontal cortex.


The SEA is composed of five subtests, each assessing a specific orbitofrontal-related function: a test of identification of facial emotions, a reversal/extinction task, a behavioral control task, a theory of mind test, and an apathy scale. The maximum score is 55. Three groups have been tested: 22 fvFTD patients, 22 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) or amnesic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), and 30 healthy control subjects, all matched for age and educational level.


FvFTD patients showed significantly lower performances in all subtests of the SEA. A cut-off score of 39.4/55 was proposed to separate normal controls from fvFTD patients, with a maximum sensitivity and specificity of 100%. A very high specificity (88.5%) was obtained using the same cut-off with AD/aMCI patients and normal controls versus fvFTD patients. FvFTD patients' performance in the SEA did not correlate with any other neuropsychological scores, particularly the classical cognitive executive tests.


The SEA is a new and useful tool for diagnosing fvFTD and, more generally, all of the diseases affecting the orbital and medial prefrontal functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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