Frontotemporal dementia

Frontotemporal dementia or FTD (sometimes called Pick’s disease) is a relatively rare form of dementia.

FTD is thought to account for less than 5% of all dementia cases. It usually affects people between the ages of 45 and 64, but three out of every 10 people with FTD develop the condition at an older age.

FTD is caused by damage to cells in areas of the brain called the frontal and temporal lobes. The frontal lobes regulate our personality, emotions and behaviour, as well as reasoning, planning and decision-making. The temporal lobes are involved in the understanding and production of language.

Originally called Pick’s disease after the scientist who first observed the symptoms, FTD is now known to be made up of several different conditions. These include:

  • Behavioural variant FTD (bvFTD)
  • Semantic dementia (the word semantic means the meaning of language)
  • Progressive non-fluent aphasia – aphasia is a language disorder where people have problems speaking and writing
  • FTD associated with motor neurone disease

Your doctor may refer to these conditions by their specific names or may describe them all as ‘frontotemporal dementia’, as we will on these pages.

This section aims to give an introduction to frontotemporal dementia by providing an overview of the causes, symptoms and treatments. We hope you will find it helpful.

This information was updated in January 2016 and is due for review in January 2018. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.

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