Social Cognition and Behavioral Assessments Improve the Diagnosis of Behavioral Variant of Frontotemporal Dementia in Older Peruvians With Low Educational Levels

Nilton Custodio, Rosa Montesinos, Lizardo Cruzado, Eder Herrera-Perez, Virgilio E. Failoc-Rojas, Maritza Pintado-Caipa, Wendy Seminario G, José Cuenca, Carlos Gamboa, Monica M. Diaz

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Background: The behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), characterized by early behavioral abnormalities and late memory impairment, is a neurodegenerative disorder with a detrimental impact on patients and their caregivers. bvFTD is often difficult to distinguish from other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), using brief cognitive tests. Combining brief socio-cognitive and behavioral evaluations with standard cognitive testing could better discriminate bvFTD from AD patients. We sought to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of brief socio-cognitive tests that may differentiate bvFTD and AD patients with low educational levels. Methods: A prospective study was performed on 51 individuals over the age of 50 with low educational levels, with bvFTD or AD diagnosed using published criteria, and who were receiving neurological care at a multidisciplinary neurology clinic in Lima, Peru, between July 2017 and December 2020. All patients had a comprehensive neurological evaluation, including a full neurocognitive battery and brief tests of cognition (Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination version III, ACE-III), social cognition (Mini-social Cognition and Emotional Assessment, Mini-SEA), and behavioral assessments (Frontal Behavioral Inventory, FBI; Interpersonal Reactivity Index—Emphatic Concern, IRI-EC; IRI—Perspective Taking, IRI-PT; and Self-Monitoring Scale—revised version, r-SMS). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis to calculate the area under the curve (AUC) was performed to compare the brief screening tests individually and combined to the gold standard of bvFTD and AD diagnoses. Results: The AD group was significantly older than the bvFTD group (p < 0.001). An analysis of the discriminatory ability of the ACE-III to distinguish between patients with AD and bvFTD (AUC = 0.85) and the INECO Frontal Screening (IFS; AUC = 0.78) shows that the former has greater discriminatory ability. Social and behavioral cognition tasks were able to appropriately discriminate bvFTD from AD. The Mini-SEA had high sensitivity and high moderate specificity (83%) for discriminating bvFTD from AD, which increased when combined with the brief screening tests ACE-III and IFS. The FBI was ideal with high sensitivity (83%), as well as the IRI-EC and IRI-PT that also were adequate for distinguishing bvFTD from AD. Conclusions: Our study supports the integration of socio-behavioral measures to the standard global cognitive and social cognition measures utilized for screening for bvFTD in a population with low levels of education.

Original languageEnglish
Article number704109
Pages (from-to)704109
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
StatePublished - 6 Sep 2021


  • behavioral scales
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • low education
  • screening
  • social cognition


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