New: Neuropsychological impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – frontotemporal spectrum disorder

Professor Sharon Abrahams has recently published a comprehensive review of the neuropsychological evidence supporting the reconceptualisation of ALS as a spectrum disorders in Nature Reviews Neurology. This publication also includes guidance on how to diagnose ALS-FTSD using the ECAS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease with a rapid course, characterized by motor neuron dysfunction, leading to progressive disability and death. This Review, which is aimed at neurologists, psychologists and other health professionals who follow evidence-based practice relating to ALS and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), examines the neuropsychological evidence that has driven the reconceptualization of ALS as a spectrum disorder ranging from a pure motor phenotype to ALS–FTD. It focuses on changes in cognition and behaviour, which vary in severity across the spectrum: around 50% individuals with ALS are within the normal range, 15% meet the criteria for ALS–FTD, and the remaining 35% are in the mid-spectrum range with milder and more focal impairments. The cognitive impairments include deficits in verbal fluency, executive functions, social cognition and language, and apathy is the most prevalent behavioural change. The pattern and severity of cognitive and behavioural change predicts underlying regional cerebral dysfunction from brain imaging and post- mortem pathology. Our increased recognition of cognition and behaviour as part of the ALS phenotype has led to the development and standardization of assessment tools, which have been incorporated into research and clinical care. Measuring change over the course of the disease is vital for clinical trials, and neuropsychology is proving to be a biomarker for the earliest preclinical changes.

To cite this article:

Abrahams, S. Neuropsychological impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – frontotemporal spectrum disorder. Nature Reviews Neurology, 19, 655-667. DOI: