student profile: Miss Nikki-anne Wilson


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Thesis work

Thesis title: Examining the Cognitive Mechanisms Underlying Social Dysfunction in Frontotemporal Dementia

Supervisors: Muireann IRISH , Olivier PIGUET

Thesis abstract:

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a neurodegenerative disorder which, as the name suggests, results from significant frontal and temporal lobe atrophy of the brain. FTD is reported to be the second most common form of dementia affecting those under 65 years of age. FTD primarily presents as a profound change in behaviour, with individuals tending to become socially disinhibited, inappropriate and lack emotional regulation. This progressive deterioration in social function places huge strain on relationships with loved ones. Social cognition is a complex, multi-faceted area of cognition in which multiple factors are likely working in concert. This area of cognition has long been neglected in the diagnosis and management of patients with FTD despite social dysfunction being a common presenting feature. While significant advances have been made in characterising the extent to which social cognitive disruption is present in FTD, the underlying mechanisms driving these impairments remain unclear. Clarifying these factors and the key brain regions involved is crucial to understanding how social cognition breaks down in FTD.

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