Karim Virani

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Elizabeth Finger

Second Advisor

Dr. Derek Mitchell


Frontotemporal dementia is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder consisting of progressive focal atrophy of the prefrontal and temporal lobes. Emotional facial expression deficits are widely acknowledged in behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) and are speculated to partially account for patients’ social-cognitive deficits. To our knowledge this is the first study to delineate the functional neuroanatomy of facial expression processing in bvFTD using functional MRI, while controlling for voxel-wise atrophy. The results indicate emotion-specific functional abnormalities in frontotemporal regions in patients with bvFTD. BvFTD patients also demonstrated decreased activity in posterior ventral visual regions, perhaps suggesting reduced input from anterior frontal and limbic regions. Finally, bvFTD was associated with increased activity in the dorsal attentional network, providing some o f the first evidence of a potential compensatory response for functional deficits in frontotemporal regions. Together these findings suggest that functional MRI combined with tasks targeting social-cognitive deficits is a powerful technique to quantify neural systems involved in emotion processing in bvFTD.



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