Career May Influence Type of Dementia

BOSTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) — A study of U.S., Canadian and European patients with a severe form of Alzheimer’s diseases suggests one’s career may influence the disease, researchers say.

The study — led by Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute in collaboration with the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco, and several U.S. and European clinical sites — was a multi-center review of brain imaging and occupation data from 588 patients diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration, or frontotemporal dementia.

Dr. Nathan Spreng, who conducted the study while a psychology graduate student at Baycrest and is now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, says this type of dementia often strikes in middle age and manifests on either the left or the right side of the brain, while Alzheimer’s tends to affect both sides of the brain equally.

“The disease appeared to attack the side of the brain that was the least used in the patient’s professional life,” Spreng says in a statement.

For example, all jobs need verbal, physical and visuospatial skills, but while a school principal has a higher rating for verbal skill and much lower visuospatial skills and no physical skills, a flight engineer has high rating for visuospatial skills, little verbal skills and some physical skills and a firefighter has need for few verbal and visuospatial skills but high physical skills.

The findings are published in the journal Neuropsychologia.

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