White matter changes associated with resting sympathetic tone in frontotemporal dementia vs. Alzheimer's disease

Mario F. Mendez, Aditi Joshi, Madelaine Daianu, Elvira Jimenez, Paul Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background Resting sympathetic tone, a measure of physiological arousal, is decreased in patients with apathy and inertia, such as those with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) and other frontally-predominant disorders. Objective To identify the neuroanatomical correlates of skin conductance levels (SCLs), an index of resting sympathetic tone and apathy, among patients with bvFTD, where SCLs is decreased, compared to those with Alzheimer's disease (AD), where it is not. Methods This study analyzed bvFTD (n = 14) patients and a comparison group with early-onset AD (n = 19). We compared their resting SCLs with gray matter and white matter regions of interest and white matter measures of fiber integrity on magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging. Results As expected, bvFTD patients, compared to AD patients, had lower SCLs, which correlated with an apathy measure, and more gray matter loss and abnormalities of fiber integrity (fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity) in frontal-anterior temporal regions. After controllingfor group membership, the SCLs were significantly correlated with white matter volumes in the cingulum and inferior parietal region in the right hemisphere. Conclusion Among dementia patients, SCLs, and resting sympathetic tone, may correlate with quantity of white matter, rather than with gray matter or with white matter fiber integrity. Loss of white matter volumes, especially involving a right frontoparietal network, may reflect chronic loss of cortical axons that mediate frontal control of resting sympathetic tone, changes that could contribute to the apathy and inertia of bvFTD and related disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0142445
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'White matter changes associated with resting sympathetic tone in frontotemporal dementia vs. Alzheimer's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this