Behavioral Neurology

The Referral Program for Frontotemporal Lobar Degenerations and Progressive Focal Behavioral or Cognitive Disorders

Frontotemporal Dementia(FTD) or Pick's Disease

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and other focal dementias are an important group of brain disorders that result in behavioral, cognitive, or language changes. Although far less is known about FTD than about Alzheimer's disease, research during the last ten years has greatly increased our understanding of these disorders. Researchers at UCLA and elsewhere continue to make new discoveries about Frototemporal Dementia, formerly known as Pick's disease, and other brain-behavior syndromes.

Symptoms of FTD (Pick's Disease) include:

  • Change in personality
  • Lack of interest for usual activities or family and friends
  • Socially embarrassing behavior
  • Unusual Compulsive or Rigid Behavior
  • Unusual Eating Behavior
  • Difficulty with Speaking and Finding or Understanding Words

Other Neurobehavioral Disorders

  • Primary Progressive Aphasia and Semantic Dementia- speaking and word finding problems
  • Posterior Cortical Atrophy- seeing and reading problems
  • Corticobasal Degeneration and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy- Problems with movement or motor coordination of arms or eyes
  • Any other progressive problem with cognition, reading, writing, spatial abilities, reasoning, judgment or mathematics

UCLA Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) & Neurobehavior Clinic

The UCLA Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) & Neurobehavior Clinic specializes in the diagnosis and management of FTD and other Neurobehavioral Disorders. In addition to typical FTD, the clinic evaluates all focal brain degenerations associated with dementia. Criteria for patient referral include:

  • Presence of a change in behavior or thinking with a strong suspicion of an underlying non-acute brain degeneration.
  • Prior medical evaluationssent to Jill Shapira, NP for review, prior to the patient's visit.

UCLA FTD & Neurobehavior Clinic evaluation:

  • The process is usually completed in two visits with scheduled tests in-between the two appointments.
  • The evaluation may include a neuropsychological assessment, functional brain imaging, and specialized behavioral testing. (In addition, neurogenetic assessment is available)
  • Provides referring clinicians consultations on these focal dementia syndromes.
  • The clinic sends referring clinicians a summary consultation report upon completion of the evaluation.
  • This consultation can provide the patient's physician with medication and behavioral management strategies.
  • Education and counseling is also provided to patients, families, and caregivers.
  • Alternatively, if preferred, the patient can be managed through the UCLA FTD & Neurobehavior Clinic.

UCLA Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) & Neurobehavior Clinic and Research

In addition to consultation and patient care, the UCLA FTD & Neurobehavior Clinic is involved in much-needed research on these neurological conditions. Potential research participation is available in studies exploring the behavioral, cognitive, neuroimaging, and genetic aspects of these disorders. Ongoing studies include developing clinical trials wtih memantine, lithium, and other medications as well as basic studies in interpersonal behavioral interactions, psychophysiology, biomarkers, and neuroimaging aspects of these disorders.

Select Publications

Mendez MF, Licht EA, Shapira JS. Changes in dietary or eating behavior in frontotemporal dementia vs. Alzheimer's disease. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Dem 2008 Jan 15; [Epub ahead of print].

Mendez MF, Shapira JS, Woods RJ, Licht EA, Saul RE. Psychotic symptoms in frontotemporal dementia: prevalence and review. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2008;25:206-211.

Mendez MF, Lauterbach EC, Sampson SM; Committee on Research. An Evidence-Based Review of the Psychopathology of Frontotemporal Dementia: A Report of the ANPA Committee on Research. Clin Neurosci 2008;20:130-149.

Mendez MF, Cummings JL. Dementia: A Clinical Approach, Third Edition. Butterworth-Heinemann (Elsevier), Philadelphia, PA, 2003 (ISBN: 0750674709).

Clark DL, Boutros NN, Mendez MF. The Brain and Behavior: An Introduction to Behavioral Neuroanatomy, Second Edition. Blackwell Science, Malden MA, 2005. Mendez MF. Frontotemporal Dementia: Therapeutic Interventions. In Giannakopoulos P and Hof P (eds), Dementia in Clinical Care. Frontiers of Neurology and Neuroscience. Karger, Basel, Switzerland.

UCLA Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) Clinicians & Support Staff

Mario F. Mendez, MD, PhD- Behavioral and cognitive neurologist and UCLA Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry.

Sarah Kremen, MD, Po Tsai, MD and Andrew Fras, MD- Neurologists studying under Dr. Mendez in the Neurobehavior Fellowship Program.

Po Lu, PsychD- Neuropsychologist

Elvira Jimenez, MPH- Senior Staff Research Associate

Lorena Monserrat, MA- Research Associate

Dana Irshay- Research Associate

Michelle Mather- Research Associate

In addition, as part of the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Center, the UCLA FTD & Neurobehavior Clinic has available the resources of a large group of affiliated clinicians and investigators, including psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, neuroimagers, speech pathologists, and geneticists.

Contact Us

Appointments to the clinic are made by calling Neurological Services at (310)794-1195, faxing at (310)794-7491, or mailing at ATTN: Behavioral Neurology, Neurological Services 300 UCLA Medical Plaza Suite B200 Los Angeles, CA 90095