Egocentric versus allocentric spatial memory in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Sicong Tu, Hugo J. Spiers, John R. Hodges, Olivier Piguet, Michael Hornberger

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Background: Diagnosis of behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) can be challenging, in particular when patients present with significant memory problems, which can increase the chance of a misdiagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Growing evidence suggests spatial orientation is a reliable cognitive marker able to differentiate these two clinical syndromes.

Objective: Assess the integrity of egocentric and allocentric heading orientation and memory in bvFTD and AD, and their clinical implications.

Method: A cohort of 22 patient with dementia (11 bvFTD; 11 AD) and 14 healthy controls were assessed on the virtual supermarket task of spatial orientation and a battery of standardized neuropsychological measures of visual and verbal memory performance.

Results: Judgements of egocentric and allocentric heading direction were differentially impaired in bvFTD and AD, with AD performing significantly worse on egocentric heading judgements than bvFTD. Both patient cohorts, however, showed similar degree of impaired allocentric spatial representation, and associated hippocampal pathology.

Conclusions: The findings suggest egocentric heading judgements offer a more sensitive discriminant of bvFTD and AD than allocentric map-based measures of spatial memory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-892
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
Early online date1 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2017


  • orientation
  • hippocampus
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease

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