Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 122, Issue 2, pp 117–135 | Cite as

Clinicopathological correlates of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia

  • Manuel F. CasanovaEmail author
  • Sergio E. Starkstein
  • Kurt A. Jellinger


Behavioral and psychological symptoms are commonly observed in a majority of demented patients at some time during the course of their illness. Many of these psychiatric manifestations, especially those related to mood, may be early expressions of dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment. The literature suggests that behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are an integral part of the disease process. The dissociation, in many cases, between BPSD and the rather linear decline in cognitive functions suggests that independent pathophysiological mechanisms give rise to these symptoms. A review of the neuroimaging and neuropathology literature indicates that BPSD are the expression of regional rather than diffuse brain pathology. Psychotic symptoms in demented patients usually demonstrate preferential involvement of the frontal lobe and/or limbic regions. Visual hallucinations differentiate themselves from other psychotic symptoms by their tendency to involve the occipital lobes. There is a significant association between apathy and structural changes of the anterior cingulate gyrus. White matter hyperintensities occur in a significant number of depressed patients; otherwise, there is lack of association between depression and either specific brain changes or affected regions. Strictly neuropathological explanations are likely to be insufficient to explain BPSD. Environmental changes, neurochemical abnormalities, past psychiatric history (including premorbid personality), social history (e.g., intellectual achievement and life-long learning), family history, and genetic susceptibility are factors, among others, that influence BPSD.


Dementia Alzheimer disease Lewy body disease Frontotemporal dementia Psychotic disorders Depression 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel F. Casanova
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sergio E. Starkstein
    • 2
  • Kurt A. Jellinger
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  2. 2.School of Psychiatry and Clinical NeurosciencesUniversity of Western Australia (M704)CrawleyAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Clinical NeurobiologyViennaAustria

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