Serotonin and Frontotemporal Dementia

BrainFunction-300x199.jpgIncreasing serotonin levels may improve brain function and decrease frequency of impulsive behaviors in people with frontotemporal dementia, according to a new study in the medical journal Brain.

What is serotonin?

Serotonin is a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. It's classified as a "neurotransmitter," which means that it helps transmit valuable information from the brain to other parts of the body. Serotonin is known as an "inhibitory neurotransmitter," so it does not stimulate the brain as some other neurotransmitters do.

Serotonin is crucial for helping to balance moods, regulate the body's craving for carbohydrates, help with sleep cycles, and even aid in digestion. However, it's most known for mood balancing, and drugs that increase serotonin levels are often prescribed for people who are suffering from depression and other similar issues.

The study

The study is entitled "Improving response inhibition systems in frontotemporal dementia with citalopram." (Citalopram is an antidepressant that helps with serotonin production.) It looked at 12 patients with frontotempraol dementia, some of whom received citalopram and some of whom were treated with a placebo.

Using specialized tests and machines, scientists asked patients to participate in what is called a "Go-No Go" test. This test asked patients to make choices related to impulsiveness. The scientists measured both the results of the choices and the brain activity during the tests.

There was a significant difference between the two groups, indicating that increasing serotonin may help improve brain function in frontotemporal dementia patients, even in areas in which the brain region has shrunk. In addition, serotonin may reduce the impulsive behaviors associated with the disease.

Because the study looked at such a small number of patients, it is difficult to say for sure that serotonin can make a difference in frontotemporal dementia treatment. However, this study does provide important information that needs to be studied and tested in a larger population of patients.​

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