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REGULAR ARTICLES   |    
Skin Conductance Levels May Reflect Emotional Blunting in Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia
Aditi Joshi, Ph.D.; Mario F. Mendez, M.D., Ph.D.; Natalie Kaiser, Ph.D.; Elvira Jimenez, M.P.H.; Michelle Mather, B.A.; Jill S. Shapira, R.N., Ph.D.
The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2014;26:227-232. doi:10.1176/appi.neuropsych.12110332
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From the Dept. of Neurology (AJ, MFM, EJ, MM, JSS) and Dept. of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences (MFM), David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA; and Section of Neurology, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare Center, Los Angeles, CA (AJ, MFM, NK, EJ, MM, JSS).

Send correspondence to M. F. Mendez, M.D., Ph.D.; e-mail: mmendez@ucla.edu

Copyright © 2014 by the American Psychiatric Association

Received November 30, 2012; Revised April 7, 2013; Revised July 16, 2013; Accepted July 18, 2013.

Abstract

Emotional blunting is a core diagnostic feature of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). The authors evaluated skin conductance as a measure of emotional blunting among 10 patients with bvFTD compared with 10 with Alzheimer’s disease and 14 healthy control subjects. Despite responses to an auditory startle stimulus, skin conductance levels (SCLs) were lower in the patients with bvFTD compared with the other groups. The low SCLs significantly correlated with ratings of emotional blunting. The authors conclude that low SCLs in bvFTD indicate a low resting sympathetic state and low emotional arousal. The measurement of SCLs may be a useful noninvasive diagnostic test for bvFTD.

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FIGURE 1. Group Differences Before and After Startle Response

Bars represent 5% standard deviation.

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TABLE 1.Participant Characteristics
Table Footer Note

Standard deviations are shown in parentheses.

Table Footer Note

a bvFTD versus HC, p<0.001.

Table Footer Note

b AD versus HC, p<0.001.

Table Footer Note

c bvFTD versus AD, p≤0.001.

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TABLE 2.Skin Conductance Measures
Table Footer Note

Standard deviations are shown in parentheses.

Table Footer Note

a bvFTD versus AD, p<0.01.

Table Footer Note

b bvFTD versus HC, p<0.05.

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