Picks disease

Pick's disease is regarded as one of the frontotemporal lobe dementias; although it is a rare cause of dementia overall, it may account for up to 5-10 per cent of early-onset cases. Some cases are familial, probably caused by a dominant gene. Onset is between the ages of 50 and 60, and women are affected twice as often as men. Cerebral atrophy occurs, with loss of neurons and gliosis, most marked in the frontal and temporal lobes. Characteristic Pick bodies (cortical inclusions) are seen.

Symptoms of frontal lobe damage occur first (character change, disinhibition, poor judgement, etc.), followed by language problems if the temporal lobes are affected. Day-to-day memory may be relatively spared in the early stages, but impairment of memory and intellect gradually develops later. Dysphasia, apraxia, agnosia, and extrapyramidal symptoms are sometimes present. Death occurs 2-10 years after the onset.

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