The Benson Complex Figure Test detects deficits in visuoconstruction and visual memory in symptomatic familial frontotemporal dementia: A GENFI study

Lize C. Jiskoot*, Lucy L. Russell, on behalf of the Genetic Frontotemporal dementia Initiative (GENFI), Georgia Peakman, Rhian S. Convery, Caroline V. Greaves, Martina Bocchetta, Jackie M. Poos, Harro Seelaar, Lucia A.A. Giannini, John C. van Swieten, Rick van Minkelen, Yolande A.L. Pijnenburg, James B. Rowe, Barbara Borroni, Daniela Galimberti, Mario Masellis, Carmela Tartaglia, Elizabeth Finger, Chris R. ButlerCaroline Graff, Robert Laforce, Raquel Sanchez-Valle, Alexandre de Mendonça, Fermin Moreno, Matthias Synofzik, Rik Vandenberghe, Simon Ducharme, Isabelle le Ber, Johannes Levin, Markus Otto, Florence Pasquier, Isabel Santana, David M. Cash, David Thomas, Jonathan D. Rohrer

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objective: Sensitive cognitive markers are still needed for frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The Benson Complex Figure Test (BCFT) is an interesting candidate test, as it assesses visuospatial, visual memory, and executive abilities, allowing the detection of multiple mechanisms of cognitive impairment. To investigate differences in BCFT Copy, Recall and Recognition in presymptomatic and symptomatic FTD mutation carriers, and to explore its cognitive and neuroimaging correlates. Method: We included cross-sectional data from 332 presymptomatic and 136 symptomatic mutation carriers (GRN, MAPT or C9orf72 mutations), and 290 controls in the GENFI consortium. We examined gene-specific differences between mutation carriers (stratified by CDR® NACC-FTLD score) and controls using Quade's / Pearson Χ2 tests. We investigated associations with neuropsychological test scores and grey matter volume using partial correlations and multiple regression models respectively. Results: No significant differences were found between groups at CDR® NACC-FTLD 0–0.5. Symptomatic GRN and C9orf72 mutation carriers had lower Copy scores at CDR® NACC-FTLD ≥2. All three groups had lower Recall scores at CDR® NACC-FTLD ≥2, with MAPT mutation carriers starting at CDR® NACC-FTLD ≥1. All three groups had lower Recognition scores at CDR® NACC FTLD ≥2. Performance correlated with tests for visuoconstruction, memory, and executive function. Copy scores correlated with frontal-subcortical grey matter atrophy, while Recall scores correlated with temporal lobe atrophy. Conclusions: In the symptomatic stage, the BCFT identifies differential mechanisms of cognitive impairment depending on the genetic mutation, corroborated by gene-specific cognitive and neuroimaging correlates. Our findings suggest that impaired performance on the BCFT occurs relatively late in the genetic FTD disease process. Therefore its potential as cognitive biomarker for upcoming clinical trials in presymptomatic to early-stage FTD is most likely limited.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120590
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Dementia Research Centre is supported by Alzheimer's Research UK , Alzheimer's Society, Brain Research UK , and The Wolfson Foundation . This work was supported by the NIHR UCL/H Biomedical Research Centre, the Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre (LWENC) Clinical Research Facility, and the UK Dementia Research Institute, which receives its funding from UK DRI Ltd., funded by the UK Medical Research Council, Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Research UK. JDR is supported by the Miriam Marks Brain Research UK Senior Fellowship and has received funding from an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship (MR/M008525/1) and the NIHR Rare Disease Translational Research Collaboration (BRC149/NS/MH). This work was also supported by the MRC UK GENFI grant (MR/M023664/1), the Bluefield Project, the JPND GENFI-PROX grant (2019–02248), the Dioraphte Foundation [grant numbers 09–02-00], the Association for Frontotemporal Dementias Research Grant 2009, The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) (grant HCMI 056–13-018), ZonMw Memorabel (Deltaplan Dementie; project numbers 733050103 and 733050813), JPND PreFrontAls Consortium (project number 733051042) and Instituto de Salud Carlos III , Spain, and FEDER funds (grant number 20/00448). JBR is supported by the Wellcome Trust (103838), Medical Research Council (SUAG092 G116768) and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC-1215 − 20014: the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care). This work was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) under Germany's Excellence Strategy within the framework of the Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (EXC 2145 SyNergy – ID 390857198). JMP is supported by a fellowship award from Alzheimer Nederland (WE.15–2019.02). This work was conducted using the MRC Dementias Platform UK (MR/L023784/1 and MR/009076/1). For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright license to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.

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