Lost and forgotten? Orientation versus memory in Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia

Belinda Yew, Suvarna Alladi, Mekala Shailaja, John R. Hodges, Michael Hornberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies suggest that significant memory problems are not specific to Alzheimer's disease (AD) but can be also observed in other neurodegenerative conditions, such as behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). We investigated whether orientation (spatial & temporal) information is a better diagnostic marker for AD compared to memory and whether their atrophy correlates of orientation and memory differ. A large sample (n = 190) of AD patients (n = 73), bvFTD patients (n = 54), and healthy controls (n = 63) underwent testing. A subset of the patients (n = 72) underwent structural imaging using voxel-based morphometry analysis of magnetic resonance brain imaging. Orientation and memory scores from the Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination showed that AD patients had impaired orientation and memory, while bvFTD patients performing at control level for orientation but had impaired memory. A logistic regression showed that 78% of patients could be classified on the basis of orientation and memory scores alone at clinic presentation. Voxel-based morphometry analysis was conducted using orientation and memory scores as covariates, which showed that the neural correlates for orientation and memory also dissociated with posterior hippocampus cortex being related to orientation in AD, while the anterior hippocampus was associated with memory performance in the AD and bvFTD patients. Orientation and memory measures discriminate AD and bvFTD to a high degree and tap into different hippocampal regions. Disorientation and posterior hippocampus appears therefore specific to AD and will allow clinicians to discriminate AD patients from other neurodegenerative conditions with similar memory deficits at clinic presentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-481
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • atrophy
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • hippocampus
  • memory
  • orientation

Cite this