Structural neuroimaging of social cognition in progressive non-fluent aphasia and behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia

Blas Couto, Facundo Manes, Patricia Montañés, Diana Matallana, Pablo Reyes, Marcela Velasquez, Adrián Yoris, Sandra Baez, Agustin Ibáñez

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Social cognition impairments are pervasive in the frontotemporal dementias (FTD). These deficits would be triggered by (a) basic emotion and face recognition processes as well as by (b) higher level social cognition (e.g., theory of mind, ToM). Both emotional processing and social cognition impairments have been previously reported in the behavioral variant of FTD (bvFTD) and also in other versions of FTDs, including primary progressive aphasia. However, no neuroanatomic comparison between different FTD variants has been performed. We report selective behavioral impairments of face recognition, emotion recognition, and ToM in patients with bvFTD and progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA) when compared to controls. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) shows a classical impairment of mainly orbitofrontal (OFC), anterior cingulate (ACC), insula and lateral temporal cortices in patients. Comparative analysis of regional gray matter related to social cognition deficits (VBM) reveals a differential pattern of fronto-insulo-temporal atrophy in bvFTD and an insulo-temporal involvement in PNFA group. Results suggest that in spite of similar social cognition impairments reported in bvFTD and PNFA, the former represents an inherent ToM affectation whereas in the PNFA these deficits could be related to more basic processes of face and emotion recognition. These results are interpreted in the frame of the fronto-insulo-temporal social context network model (SCNM).

Original languageEnglish
Article number467
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberAUG
StatePublished - 13 Aug 2013


  • Fronto-insulo-temporal network
  • PNFA
  • Social context network model
  • Theory of mind
  • Voxel-based morphometry
  • bvFTD


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