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.

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New Onset Of Criminal Behavior In Adults May Signal Brain Degenerative Disease

Dr. Georges Naasan MD Neurologist, Clinical Instructor UCSF Memory and Aging CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Georges Naasan MD
Neurologist, Clinical Instructor
UCSF Memory and Aging Center

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Naasan: Degenerative diseases of the brain can lead to dysfunction in judgment, emotional processing, social decorum and self-awareness. In turn, such dysfunctions may result in criminal behavior that appears for the first time in middle-aged adults or even later in life. We studied 2397 patients from the Memory and Aging Center at UCSF and found 204 (8.5%) that had a criminal behavior as part of their illness. The large majority of these patients were patients with a specific type of neurodegenerative disease called behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia, followed by a group of people with a disease called semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia. People with Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that does not usually interrupt the functions mentioned above, were the least likely to exhibit criminal behavior. The common manifestation of criminal behaviors in people with the behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia included theft, sexual advances trespassing and public urination in contrast to people with Alzheimer’s disease who, when such behaviors were present, primarily committed traffic violations often secondary to cognitive impairment.
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