Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a form of progressive dementia in which mental ability is gradually lost over time. The disease typically begins with two broad groups of symptoms: (1) progressive changes in behavior, or (2) progressive problems with language. The changes in behavior can involve either impulsivity and social inappropriateness or extreme listlessness and disinterest in things. The changes in language are usually slowly progressive, including difficulty with naming, reading and writing. Most patients develop the disease in middle age.
The term FTD actually refers to a group of syndromes that include: Pick’s disease, Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration, Semantic Dementia and Primary Progressive Aphasia. Some patients with FTD also develop a form of motor neuron disease known as ALS. The symptoms of FTD are associated with degeneration of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The pathological changes in the brain that cause this form of dementia vary; sometimes abnormal formations in the brain called Pick Bodies are seen, but sometimes there is only evidence of nerve cell loss and degeneration of the supporting tissues of the brain.