Dr. Madeleine Liljegren

Criminal and Socially Inappropriate Behaviors Could Be Signs of Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Madeleine Liljegren

Dr. Madeleine Liljegren
Photo: Ingemar Walldén

Madeleine Liljegren, MD
Division of Oncology and Pathology
Department of Clinical Sciences
Lund University Lund, Sweden

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We know from former studies including patients with a clinical diagnosis of dementia, that criminal and socially inappropriate behaviors can be signs of dementia, sometimes even the first signs of a neurodegenerative disorder.

We wanted to study this relatively large (n=220) cohort of neuropathologically verified Alzheimer disease (AD) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) patients, who had been followed clinically by specialists in cognitive medicine or geriatric psychiatry during their disease period, to see if we could confirm results from previous studies.

In this paper, we further wanted to study potential differences regarding protein pathology and criminal behavior in frontotemporal dementia patients. This has, to our knowledge, never been done before.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The main findings are that there it is a lot more common among frontotemporal dementia than Alzheimer disease patients to exhibit criminal and socially inappropriate behavior during their disease course. The FTD patients also had a higher recurrence of criminal behavior. When studying protein pathology among the frontotemporal dementia patients there was an overweight of nontau pathology (transactive DNA protein 43, FUS or undetermined) among patients who had been exhibiting criminal behavior. Nontau pathology, in contradistinction to tau pathology, increased the odds for criminal behavior by a factor of 9.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Criminal and socially inappropriate behaviors could be signs of dementia. When previous law abiding citizens start to behave in an odd way or even commit crimes we suggest that they be screened for neurodegenerative disorders. This could potentially lead to a shorter time from symptom onset to diagnosis and hence proper care in time. The odd behaviors constitutes a significant burden to society, patients’ relatives and the patients themselves.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Prospective studies, including imaging, on this matter with neuropathological follow up is required. We would also recommend that research would include judicial outcomes for these patients since especially FTD patients sometimes can verbalize that their actions are wrong but proceed with their criminal behavior.

No disclosures.


Liljegren M, Landqvist Waldö M, Frizell Santillo A, et al. Association of Neuropathologically Confirmed Frontotemporal Dementia and Alzheimer Disease With Criminal and Socially Inappropriate Behavior in a Swedish Cohort. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(3):e190261. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0261


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Last Updated on March 29, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD