Alzheimer’s Society comments on research suggesting apathy as possible predictor of frontotemporal dementia

A University of Cambridge-led study has indicated that apathy could be an early symptom of frontotemporal dementia and predict cognitive decline.

The study, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, involved 304 healthy people who carry a faulty gene that causes frontotemporal dementia, and 296 of their relatives who have normal genes.

Dr Richard Oakley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

There are no treatments at all for frontotemporal dementia (FTD), so it’s exciting to see this adding a new piece of the FTD puzzle.

'As this just looked at the third of people who get FTD genetically, we don’t yet know if apathy could also be an early indicator or predict progression in the other two-thirds who develop FTD out of the blue.

'We don’t currently have an accurate way to identify someone at risk of FTD, so we’re hoping this can work with our own research on spotting early brain changes occurring in genetic FTD to take us a step closer – we need more dementia research funding to get us there faster and give hope to people at risk.'