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Functional correlates of musical and visual ability in frontotemporal dementia

  • Bruce L. Miller (a1), Kyle Boone (a2), Jeffrey L. Cummings (a2), Stephen L. Read (a3) and Fred Mishkin (a4)...
Abstract
Background

The emergence of new skills in the setting of dementia suggests that loss of function in one brain area can release new functions elsewhere.

Aims

To characterise 12 patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) who acquired, or sustained, new musical or visual abilities despite progression of their dementia.

Method

Twelve patients with FTD who acquired or maintained musical or artistic ability were compared with 46 patients with FTD in whom new or sustained ability was absent.

Results

The group with musical or visual ability performed better on visual, but worse on verbal tasks than did the other patients with FTD. Nine had asymmetrical left anterior dysfunction. Nine showed the temporal lobe variant of FTD.

Conclusion

Loss of function in the left anterior temporal lobe may lead to facilitation of artistic or musical skills. Patients with the left-sided temporal lobe variant of FTD offer an unexpected window into the neurological mediation of visual and musical talents.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Bruce Miller, Professor of Neurology, UCSF/Mt Zion Hospital 1600 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, California 94115, USA. Tel: 001 310 222 3890; Fax: 001 310 618 1273; e-mail: brucem@email.his.ucsf.edu
Footnotes
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See editorial pp. 412–413, this issue.

Declaration of interest

This work was supported by the UCLA Alzheimer Disease Center AG–10123, the Sidell – Kagan Research Foundation and the Elins family through UCLA Medical School and the A.W. and Mary-Margaret Clausen Chair at UCSF.

Footnotes
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Functional correlates of musical and visual ability in frontotemporal dementia

  • Bruce L. Miller (a1), Kyle Boone (a2), Jeffrey L. Cummings (a2), Stephen L. Read (a3) and Fred Mishkin (a4)...
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