Indian old man walking
Project Type - Pilot Projects

Role of Social Interaction and Physical Activity in Brain Health in Frontotemporal Dementia

Investigating the influence of life-course factors in frontotemporal dementia
Southern Asia


Recent evidence suggests that preventative strategies targeting modifiable risk factors may prevent up to 40% of dementias. While there is no cure for frontotemporal dementia (FTD), addressing modifiable risk factors can be an important strategy linked to prevention. Active lifestyles have been linked to increased cognitive reserve and reduced functional decline in patients with FTD, while the role of social engagement and vascular risk factors have been understudied in FTD. In low and middle-income countries like India, vascular risk factors are prevalent but frequently underdiagnosed and undertreated. We aim to investigate the influence of life-course factors, such as physical activity, social interaction, and vascular risk factors, as mediators of brain health in FTD.

Project Details

We plan a single-center, cross-sectional study involving participants recruited from the Cognitive Disorders Clinic of a tertiary care hospital in India. The study cohort consists of 90 patients with FTD. Details of life-course measures will be collected using validated measures: the social networking index and the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ). We will measure cortical thickness in patients using cortical-based morphometry and measure the impact of small vessel cerebrovascular disease using MRI-based measures of white matter injury. We will define cognitive reserve as the discrepancy between cognitive and functional status, as measured by testing and validated ratings, and disease severity as measured by cortical thickness. We will examine the relationship between mid-life physical activity, social network index scores, age of onset of dementia, cortical thickness, and cognitive reserve in patients with FTD. We will examine the contribution of vascular risk factors and small vessel cerebrovascular disease to this effect. The proposed study would provide insight into their role as potentially modifiable factors which could be implemented at any age. The results will have the potential to provide valuable cost-effective prevention strategies for patients with FTD. This work will explore creating randomized trials of prevention strategies that could help build cognitive reserve in FTD.