International Society on FrontoTemporal Dementia - Lille 2022 (11/2022)
It has been a eminently awaited moment by the scientific and clinical community interested in FTLD: the ISFTD 2022 congress taking place in Lille. Thanks to the efforts of Florence Pasquier, who chaired the organizing committee, the congress went admirably well. It was a real pleasure to meet again all the specialists in the field and to those who will take over in the future. The program was rich, with a quality symposium in Paris, followed by 3 days of conferences in Lille. The meetings followed one another, making it finally possible to move forward on important subjects without Zoom or Teams, exchanging and preparing future collaborations. Our team presented 6 posters to inform the community about ongoing works in Lille, Belo Horizonte or through the consortiums NIC-FTD, RedLat and SIGNATURE.
Lionel Trogneux's thesis viva (10/2022)
In the past week, Lionel Trogneux defended his thesis in medicine at the University of Lille. This thesis was supervised by Thibaud Lebouvier and Maxime Bertoux and was focused on the characterisation of langage, neuropsychological, biomarkers and imaging aspects in primary progressive aphasia and on the automated classification of PPAs based on a specialized langage assessment. Congrats to Lionel, who brilliantly presented his study and answered to the jury's questions !
Symposium on social cognition (10/2022)
This week, the first symposium from the association of neuropsychologists in the North of France will take place. The topic is social cognition, and Maxime Nivet will present our published findings from the national survey conducted in France on the neuropsychologists' beliefs and practices associated to this domain.
Social cognition in neurodegenerative diseases (09/2022)
This week, the review "Social cognition in neurodegenerative diseases" made the cover of Neurologies, a French medical journal. In this review, Maxime reviewed the definitions, functions, symptoms, neural bases and evaluation methods of this cognitive domain. Special thanks to Thibaud for his careful re-reading!
Unravelling three myths about social cognition (09/2022)
Invited to be a speaker at the XVII Congress of Latin-American Society of Neuropsychology, a prestigious congress that was taking place this year at Montevideo in Urugay, Maxime delivered a conference in the symposium "Social cognition: an emerging neuropsychological marker", in which he aimed to deconstruct three myths regarding this cognitive domain.
France's expert of FTD ? (09/2022)
One year ago, during the International Alzheimer Day, ExpertScape contacted Maxime to let him know that he was considered by their company to be the leading expert of frontotemporal dementia in France. ExpertScape creates algorithms establishing experts ranking based on passed scientific publications. These rankings could be useful to media outlets or private companies needing an expertise on a particular topic. Maxime is present in the top 0.22% of international authors working in FTD, and present in other rankings (1% international) linked to Alzheimer's disease, neurodegenerative diseases, neuropsychology, frontal lobe, psychological tests and theories, and theory of mind. Although no algorithm could prove the superiority of one expertise on another one, and if such rankings could be somehow unreliable, evidences of recognition are however very much appreciated !
Social cognition in progressive supranuclear palsy (09/2022)
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, or PSP, is a neurodegenerative disease that causes problem in walking, balance and eye movement. Motor impairments being characteristics of this progressive disease, research has been late to describe the potential cognitive impairments that could occur too. However, in clinic, we retrieve numerous common symptoms in patients with PSP and patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal degeneration. These two conditions are often linked, including in the genetic and neuropathological levels, but they have been rarely contrasted regarding social cognition. With Paulo Caramelli's & Leonardo de Souza's team, we have compared the profile of these two diseases in social cognition as well as the brain atrophy correlating with this domain. We showed great similarities between these two conditions, demonstrating that PSP also leads to social cognition impairments, linked to a cortical atrophy.
"Calling on clinicians to get social and emotional" (07/2022)
To be cited allows a scientific team to have an idea of its impact and the relevancy of its studies. Citations from Skye McDonald are particularly appreciated given her importance in the field of social cognition. In a recent paper, her team shared our observation, notably through the mention of the results of our recent national survey. This observation is the disinterest of our colleagues, psychologists or physicians, for the assessment of social and emotional cognition, at the expense of patients and their relatives. A must-read review paper.
Neuromyths are trendy (06/2022)
Maxime answered to Sciences Humaines magazine, in the context of an article focused on the role of neurosciences in education. More specifically, he pointed out how some influencers, without any training in psychology or neurosciences, could sometimes use neuromyths in their writings on positive education. Reptilian brain, opposition between reason and emotion, localisationism... the use of (bad) neurosciences to give credibility to unsourced non-evidenced based approaches is trendy.
Conference on social cognition (05/2022)
Within the DIU MA2, the national transdisciplinary diploma opened to physicians wishing to specialize themselves in cognitive disorders, Maxime has been invited to give a conference on social cognition and the relevancy of its measure in neurodegenerative diseases. Concepts, definitions, approaches, revised theories and clinical results have been presented during an hour.
Emotions: between affects and concepts (04/2022)
Maxime has been invited by the French Neurological Society to give a conference at the JNLF congress about his Brain paper providing clinical evidences of constructionnist models of emotions. He will talk about the interactions between affects and concepts for the recognition of emotions.
Social cognition & Neuropsychology (04/2022)
In 2020, we ran a national survey to identify the current practices, representations and needs linked to social cognition, from the perspective of professional neuropsychologists and graduate students. Responses from 502 participants were analyzed to determine the classical field conception of social cognition and its associated symptoms or notions. It also allowed us to quantify practice activities and the uses of the different clinical tools available. Finally, this study assessed neuropsychologists' confidence regarding social cognition assessment and its rehabilitation and student's training. The results will be soon published in Applied Neuropsychology: Adult and available in French here. You can also read the accepted paper.
Does culture shapes our understanding of other thoughts and emotions? (03/2022)
More than 100 of collaborators were involved in this large international study that our team coordinated, which aimed to estimate the impact of participants' nationality in the neuropsychological assessment of social cognition. After 8 years of work, 587 participants included through 18 centres, in 12 countries, the study, revealing that more than 20% of variation in traditional assessment of social cognition could be attributed to cultural differences, will soon be published in Neuropsychology. Access the accepted (temporary) paper here.
Cognition sociale : a new 2022 edition (02/2022)
The review article "Cognition sociale", published in 2016 in the EMC - Neurology (Surgery & Medical Encyclopedia) treatise was read more than 12k time on ResearchGate, a accomplishment for a paper written in French. Maxime was therefore happy to write the 2022 version of the paper for EMC - Neurology, which is online today. Useful for a critical introduction on the domain, and its clinical assessment.
New precious funding to support our work ! (12/2021)
We are infinitely grateful to France Alzheimer, its selection committee and the foreign experts who awarded us, after a competitive evaluation, 93,000 euros to fund our research regarding the validation of new neuropsychological tools for the assessment of social & affective cognition. Thanks to this money, we will be able to fund neuropsychological and MRI examinations for the participants and carry out this research project. Thank you !
Interoception & social cognition (12/2021)
Florent's study, focalised on the prediction mechanisms at play in interoception and social cognition processes, has been accepted in the journal Pain Management. In this article, we showed a decrease ability to predict and identify the normal physiological signals in chronic low back pain, as compared to control participants, as well as a decrease of mentalisation abilities. We discussed the relevancy of these results for the management of chronic pain.
Covid brain lesions vs Alzheimer's (11/2021)
Maxime answered the questions of Liberation's fact-checkers journalists "CheckNews" regarding the recent controversy that has arisen en France after G. Deray's interview in the "C à vous" TV show, in which he compared the brain lesions of children with covid to the lesions we observe in Alzheimer's disease. An unfortunate comparison, contradicted by the most recent neuroimaging studies.
Interoception is an overlooked function allowing the evaluation and prediction of our physiological activity. It is involved in everything related to the internal body' sensation changes, and as such, in our emotional life. Maxime had the great pleasure to supervise Florent El Grabli for his medical and specialization theses, that were focused on the study of interoceptive abilities and their link with social cognition in chronic pain. The results of this study, conducted in the Pain centre of the Lille hospital, with patients suffering from chronic low back pain will be soon (hopefully!) published... While waiting for this news, bravo to Florent, now an algologist, for his exemplary work!
Toward a social neuropsychology (10/2021)
François and Maxime will soon publish, in "Les Cahiers de Neuropsychologie Clinique", an article for neuropsychologists and students in neuropsychology, in which they highlight the limits of the present neuropsychological approach and push for the developpement of a social neuropsychology, that would better account for the social impacts of cognitive impairment and better assess the specific psychological abilities that allow social interactions. In this didactic paper, they expose the way social cognition is conceptualized and operationalized, some theoretical contradictions that prevent its development, then discuss the limits and challenges associated to this field of research and practice.
The Fondation Alzheimer is talking about our study (10/2021)
A bit late, we discovered that the Fondation Alzheimer talked about our study focused on the ability of amnesia to predict Alzheimer pathology in the brain. On its website, under the News section, the Fondation relayed the recommendations we published at the end of our paper in Neurobiology of Aging in 2020, which is to widen and enrich the current neuropsychological assessment.
In parallel, this paper is the subject of a mini podcast conducted by Prof. Philippe Amouyel, head of the Fondation Alzheimer:
Prediction of FTLD pathologies based on neuropsychology (09/2021)
Today, Khadija Hamouali finished her Master thesis, supervised by Maxime (and Thibaud Lebouvier), which was focused on an attempt to predict the underlying FTLD pathology through the analysis of the memory profile at first visit. To be able to predict the underlying brain pathology is to be able to prescribe the correct therapeutics early in the medical path of patients. This aim becomes more and more important as flourish clinical trials targeting specific proteins/pathologies. Retrospectively analysing the memory profile of 59 patients in which an autopsy confirmed FTLD pathology, Khadija looked for correspondences with different types of FTLD pathology: FUS, Tau 3R PiD, Tau 4R AGD, DCB, PSP and TDP-43 A, B and C. A great variability was observed regarding the impairment of long-term memory in those patients regardless of the pathology, which prevented any prediction of a specific pathology. Those results confirm our past results: numerous patients with FTLD suffer from memory impairments. They also suggest that to consider only a single cognitive test or symptom does not allow to predict a particular brain pathology, as we underlined before.
Spatial navigation & the early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases (07/2021)
Bravo to Ana-Maria Dascalita, Laura Gaubert and Caroline Laborde who have written and defended with success their DIU thesis that Maxime had the pleasure to supervise. In this study, these neurologists tested the feasibility of the early assessment of spatial orientation in Alzheimer's disease and associated disorders through a novel screening task. Thanks to Ana-Maria, Laura and Caroline's (as well as Thierry Rosolacci's) efforts, we have administered this new task we developed to 67 participants and tested its limits, sensitivity and specificity to Alzheimer's disease. After this first step needed to validate this test, we look forward to continue the good work and to send it around!
Predicting and characterizing neurodegenerative subtypes with social cognition (06/2021)
Our team was involved in an international study that included 223 participants, aiming to increase the prediction and diagnosis classification of frontotemporal degeneration, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease based on neuropsychological and neuroimaging data. Our paper, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, shows that social cognition, measured with the mini-SEA, allows an accurate prediction and classification of these diseases, an accuracy confirmed by the brain atrophy and functional dysfunctions specific to each disease. Congrats to Agustin Ibanez, Sol Fittipaldi and Sandra Baez, the principal authors of this nice paper!
Training & support classes for FTLD carer & families (06/2021)
Organized and hosted by Florence Lebert, psychogeriatrician and FTLD specialist at the EPSM des Flandres (Bailleul, France) & Lille University Hospital, the training and support classes for carer & families of patients with Frontotemporal lobar degeneration allow to provide knowledge on FTLD, explain the behaviour changes that families have to face everyday, identify the concrete actions to deal with the disease, the way of communicating with patients, and present the aid and assistance available to them. Maxime will participate to the class in reviewing the neurocognitive explanations to the behavioural changes encountered, apathy as well as the lack of empathy. He will also participate in a Q/A session with the families.
The INSCD at the Saxe Lab @ MIT (06/2021)
Antoine Coutrot (Research Assoc Prof CNRS, LIRIS, Lyon), with whom the team is lucky to work for months, will present our cross-cultural study of social cognition at the Saxe Lab, Rebecca Saxe's lab at the MIT, where he is invited to speak about cultural differences in neuropsychology. Our study, performed within the INSCD, analysed the performance of control participants from 12 countries at two tests assessing facial emotion recognition & theory of mind. Highlighting important variations across countries, our study allows a significant criticism of the universalist approach and over generalization of results in neurosciences. Congrats Antoine, and thank you!
French norms of the mini-SEA are available (12/2020)
Developed from 2006 to 2016, the mini-SEA was initially published in 2012 in the Journal of Psychiatry, Neurology & Neurosurgery, then by de Boeck - Solal in 2014 after a free and massive distribution to french-speaking colleagues. Now being an essential clinical tool in numerous countries to quickly assess social cognition abilities, true normative data of the French population was missing so far. François and Maxime, with the collaboration of Sonia Michalon and Frédéric Blanc, published in La Revue de Neuropsychologie, the validation of the mini-SEA among 150 French participants.
Characteristics & progression of patients with frontotemporal degeneration (12/2020)
Created in 1989 and enriched to become Méotis, the Hauts de France's network was the first French Alzheimer network, pioneer in the collaborative organisation of cares and transdisciplinarity. In this paper, we participated in the analysis of the network's database, initiated by Thibaud Lebouvier, Florence Pasquier and Mélanie Leroy, in order to increase the characterization of patients with FTLD. Within the network, FTLD represents 2.6% of cognitive neurodegeneration diseases. Compared with AD, patients with a language or behavioural variant FTD has a longer diagnosis wandering, are diagnosed with more delay, and receive more anti-depressive, anxiolytic and anti-psychotic treatments, while having an overall similar progression.
From Ekman's neo-Darwinist theory to Barrett's constructivist approach of emotions 12/2020)
Invited by "La Revue de Neuropsychologie" to write an editorial "Point of view" on emotions, Maxime mentions the transition, in the psychological field, between neo-Darwinist and constructivist theories of emotions. Without coming back to John Locke's tabula rasa, we progressively admit that culture plays a role in our perception of emotions.
Our understanding of other's thoughts and emotions is shaped by our culture (08/2020)
The first work from the International Network on Social Cognition Disorders (INSCD) is now available in preprint! We, 57 researchers from the network, compared the social cognition performance from people originating from WEIRD and non WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialized Rich & Democratic) countries, within a large multicentric international study. We observed major differences across countries, explaining >20% of the total variance retrieved in two widely used social cognition tests, even after controlling for age, gender, education and language differences. Beyond interpreting these differences retrieved, we discuss the problem of universalism and overgeneralization of findings in neurosciences.
The construction of emotions (08/2020)
Since Darwin, it is generally admitted that emotions are distinct, innate and universal biological experiences. But the recent development of a constructivist vision of emotions, notably by Lisa F Barrett & Kristen Lindquist's work, has allow a revision of this theory. Maybe emotions are psychological states that enrich themselves during the entire lifespan, according to our experience and our environment? We tried to answer this question by the neuropsychological and neuroimaging assessment of a rare disease: the semantic variant of frontotemporal degeneration, characterised by a disintegration of conceptual knowledge. We observed an impairment in the recognition of emotions, some valence errors as well as a memory loss of emotional concepts. In addition, we revealed tight links between these dysfunctions, correlated to the joint role of a common neural "affective" and "semantic" network in the brain. We bring, in Brain, another evidence of the constructivist vision of emotions. To recognize an emotion implies the remembering of the meaning that we attribute to it.
Does amnesia predict Alzheimer's disease? (07/2020)
This is what seems to be established since the last twenty years, which greatly facilitated the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and its global recognition in media and the general public. We however wanted to answer this clinical question, by confronting the amnesia to the highest level of diagnosis certainty: the analysis of brain pathology. Our study, a national collaboration across the hospital of Paris Pitié-Salpêtrière, Marseille La Timone, Bordeaux, Rouen and Nantes, as well as the national brain bank Neuro CEB, shows a limited correspondence between amnesia and Alzheimer pathology in the brain. Briefly, 1 patient out of 3 with Alzheimer's disease has no amnesia in the earliest stages of their diseases (without having an atypical presentation) and, by contrast, 1 out of 2 patients without Alzheimer's disease present with a moderate to severe amnesia. In conclusion, amnesia, when considered as an isolated symptom, does not allow to accurately orient the diagnosis. This has important consequences as the other neurodegenerative diseases are currently overlooked, under diagnosed, and less known from the general public and media. Our paper insists (1) on forgetting this simplistic clinical heuristic associating amnesia to Alzheimer, (2) on the necessity to perform a multidisciplinary and expert assessment, (3) on replacing the medical screening test for memory (i.e. 5 words) by a complete neuropsychological assessment, (4) and finally on the importance of brain donation to advance research.
LEPTOB : Leptin, appetite & decision making (05/2020)
Coordinated by Vincent Florent, the LEPTOB study takes place at the hospital of Arras. The SCANN team delivered its expertise to design a specific cognitive assessment related to the topic of the study, who target the role of leptin, an hormone involved in the regulation of appetite within the brain, in a population of people with obesity. The study aims to see if Metformin, a treatment generally used in diabetes, allows to re-establish the circulation of leptin in the brain. A specialized neuropsychological testing as well as MRI examinations will help to achieve this aim.
Tanycytes, Alzheimer's disease and Frontotemporal degeneration (03/2020)
SCANN is a parter of BioWATCH, the ERC funded research program of Vincent Prévot, within a clinical phase supervised by Thibaud Lebouvier. Never heard of tanycytes? Well, same for us before. Tanycytes are specialised brain cells taking care of the transport between the median eminence of the hypothalamus and the cerebrospinal fluid. Tanycytes are thought to be essential for metabolic hormones to access the brain. Mechanisms such as hunger and satiety depend of this good transport. The study explore the possibility that this transport function is impaired in Alzheimer's disease and Frontotemporal degeneration, and if it plays any role in the eating disorders frequently reported in the last disease. The role of SCANN was to design a specialised cognitive battery focused on reward processing, affective cognition and decision making, to explore other factors that could be at play in eating disorders.
Social cognition course cancelled due to Covid-19 (03/2020)
The fourth seminary of the InterUniversity Degree on Alzheimer's disease and Associated Disorders, focused on frontotemporal degeneration, is cancelled due to the covid-19 situation. Therefore, Maxime's course on social cognition is cancelled.
6th Meeting Researchers-Clinicians (03/2020)
François will give the conference : "What is social cognition? Theory and Practice" at the 6th Meeting Researchers-Clinicians in Neuropsychology, organized by the l'University of Lille (SCALAB & Master PPNSA). He will present some preliminary results from the national enquiry about social cognition, and other, more advanced, results that you definitely want to see ! Register online !
Social cognition & French Neuropsychology (02/2020)
With the Organisation Française des Psychologues spécialisé·e·s en Neuropsychologie, our team officially starts the national enquiry targetting neuropsychologists and grad-students in neuropsychology, to assess the knowledge, belief and practice in social cognition. You'll be able to follow the results on our website later, before their publication.
Would you like some social cognition with your coffee ? (12/2019)
SCANN is partner of the CAFCA study, led by Thibaud Lebouvier and David Blum, aiming to study the effect of caffeine on the cognitive functioning of patients with Alzheimer's disease at a mild to moderate stage. Known to increase attentional functioning, caffeine has been tested in mouse models so far, with key results on regulating the corticotropic axis, dis-regulated in ageing and Alzheimer's disease. Rather than testing memory through word lists, as usual, we designed an assessment of social & affective aspects of memory.
Morphology of cortical sulci in Alzheimer's disease (07/2019)
What do you find between the gyri of the brain? Sulci! In a new study, Maxime and the teams from the CEA and Sainte-Anne Paris Hospital, showed that a widening of sulci and a diminution of cortical thickness in temporal and parietal sulci are characteristics of Alzheimer's disease. Sensitive to the severity of the disease, these morphological alterations are also correlated with the cognitive decline. In this "proof of concept" study, we showed the potential of brain sulci's morphological data extraction methods in the diagnosis prediction, follow-up and personalized medicine in neurodegeneration.
Psychological and cognitive marker of behavioural variant frontotemporal degeneration (06/2019)
Maxime paired with Andreas Johnen, a German neuropsychologist, to discuss practical difficulties and scientific, psychological and medical controversies relevant to the diagnosis of behavioural FTD. More than a diagnosis guide, we discussed the overlap between neurology and psychiatry, the last development about social cognition in the field, the interest of apraxia and interoception, as well as the principal challenges of modern neuropsychology in the field of neurodegeneration.
A Social cognition Mooc for Speech-therapists (05/2019)
The Master thesis of Justine Piquet led to the creation of a Mooc on social cognition for speech-therapists. The video has been put online on the University website. Through a questionnaire, Justine has assessed the knowledge of speech-therapists about social cognition, notably in neurodegeneration, before and after the Mooc.