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Neuropsychologia. 2015 May;71:101-11. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.03.020. Epub 2015 Mar 20.

Do I know you? Examining face and object memory in frontotemporal dementia.

Author information

1
Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia; The School of Medical Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Australia. Electronic address: f.kumfor@neura.edu.au.
2
Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia.
3
Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia; ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Australia; School of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
4
Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia; The School of Medical Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Australia.
5
ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Australia; School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.

Abstract

The ability to perceive, learn and recognise faces is a complex ability, which is key to successful social interactions. This ability is proposed to be coordinated by neural regions in the occipital and temporal lobes, specialised for face perception and memory. While previous studies have suggested that memory for faces is compromised in some dementia syndromes, it remains unclear whether this simply reflects more generalised memory deficits. Here, we examined basic face perception (Identity-Matching), face recognition (Cambridge Face Memory Task) and object recognition (Cambridge Car Memory Task) in 11 semantic dementia (SD) patients (8 left-lateralised, 3 right-lateralised) and 13 behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) patients, compared with 11 controls. On the Identity-Matching task, bvFTD were impaired compared to controls, with a similar trend observed in the SD group. Importantly, both bvFTD and SD also demonstrated impaired face recognition. In contrast, only bvFTD showed impaired object recognition, with SD performing within normal limits on this task. Voxel-based morphometry analyses revealed that Identity-Matching and face recognition were associated with partly dissociable regions including the fusiform cortex and anterior temporal lobe. Object-memory was associated with thalamic integrity in the bvFTD group only. These results reveal that face perception and face memory deficits are common in bvFTD and SD, and have been previously underestimated. These deficits are due to neurodegeneration of key regions within the 'core' and 'extended' face processing system, providing convergent evidence of the neural regions supporting face perception. From a clinical perspective, impaired ability to recognise faces is common in bvFTD and SD and therefore strategies to improve face perception and memory may be beneficial for these patients.

KEYWORDS:

Face perception; Frontotemporal dementia; Fusiform cortex; Memory; Temporal lobe

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