Rarer types of dementia

8. Posterior cortical atrophy

Posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), also known as Benson's syndrome, is a rare degenerative condition in which damage occurs at the back (posterior region) of the brain. In the vast majority of people, the cause of PCA is Alzheimer's disease.

The first symptoms of PCA tend to occur when people are in their mid-50s or early 60s. However, the first signs are often subtle and so it may be some time before a formal diagnosis is made.

Initially, people with PCA tend to have a relatively well-preserved memory but experience problems with their vision, such as difficulty recognising faces and objects in pictures. They may also have problems with literacy and numeracy. These tasks are controlled by the back part of the brain, where the initial damage in PCA occurs.

As damage in the brain spreads and the disease progresses, people develop the more typical symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, such as memory loss and confusion. There are no specific medications for the treatment of PCA but some people find medications for Alzheimer's disease helpful.

For further information and support contact the Posterior Cortical Atrophy Support Group (see 'Other useful organisations').