AAN: Inability to Detect Lies Could Predict Early Dementia

Patients with frontotemporal dementia less able to discern among lies, sarcasm, and fact

FRIDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- Certain neurodegenerative diseases such as frontotemporal dementia may be detected earlier by evaluating an individual's ability to detect lies and sarcasm, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, held from April 9 to 16 in Honolulu.

Katherine Rankin, Ph.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues provided yes/no questions about videos depicting actors sometimes speaking sarcastically or lying (TASIT SI-E test) to subjects with Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia, progressive non-fluent aphasia, corticobasal syndrome, progressive supranuclear palsy, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as healthy older controls. Scores were correlated with brain volume using DARTEL-based voxel-based morphometry of combined gray/white matter maps.

The investigators found that patients who had frontotemporal dementia were less able to discern among lies, sarcasm, and fact, while healthy older controls could easily distinguish sincere from insincere speech. However, patients with other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, did better.

"If somebody has strange behavior and they stop understanding things like sarcasm and lies, they should see a specialist who can make sure this is not the start of one of these diseases," Rankin said in a statement.

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