Background: Social cognition is critically compromised across neurodegenerative diseases, including the behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and Parkinson's disease (PD). However, no previous study has used social cognition and other cognitive tasks to predict diagnoses of these conditions, let alone reporting the brain correlates of prediction outcomes. Objective: We performed a diagnostic classification analysis using social cognition, cognitive screening (CS), and executive function (EF) measures, and explored which anatomical and functional networks were associated with main predictors. Methods: Multiple group discriminant function analyses (MDAs) and ROC analyses of social cognition (facial emotional recognition, theory of mind), CS, and EF were implemented in 223 participants (bvFTD, AD, PD, controls). Gray matter volume and functional connectivity correlates of top discriminant scores were investigated. Results: Although all patient groups revealed deficits in social cognition, CS, and EF, our classification approach provided robust discriminatory characterizations. Regarding controls, probabilistic social cognition outcomes provided the best characterization for bvFTD (together with CS) and PD, but not AD (for which CS alone was the best predictor). Within patient groups, the best MDA probabilities scores yielded high classification rates for bvFTD versus PD (98.3%, social cognition), AD versus PD (98.6%, social cognition+CS), and bvFTD versus AD (71.7%, social cognition+CS). Top MDA scores were associated with specific patterns of atrophy and functional networks across neurodegenerative conditions. Conclusion: Standardized validated measures of social cognition, in combination with CS, can provide a dimensional classification with specific pathophysiological markers of neurodegeneration diagnoses.
- neurodegenerative diseases
- social cognition