Cognitive dysfunction in FMR1 premutation carriers

Andreea Seritan, Jennifer Cogswell, Jim Grigsby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Premutation carriers of the fragile X mental retardation gene (especially men) older than 50 may develop a neurodegenerative disease, the fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS). Carriers may present with varied cognitive impairments. Attention, working memory, declarative and procedural learning, information processing speed, and recall are among the cognitive domains affected. Executive dysfunction is a prominent deficit, which has been demonstrated mostly in men with FXTAS. In more advanced stages of FXTAS, both men and women may develop a mixed cortical-subcortical dementia, manifested by psychomotor slowing and deficits in attention, retrieval, recall, visuospatial skills, occasional apraxia, as well as overt personality changes. Studies have shown dementia rates as high as 37-42% in older men with FXTAS, although more research is needed to understand the prevalence and risk factors of dementia in women with FXTAS. Neuropsychiatric symptoms are common and reflect the dysfunction of underlying frontal-subcortical neural circuits, along with components of the cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome. These include labile or depressed mood, anxiety, disinhibition, impulsivity, and (rarely) psychotic symptoms. In this paper we review the information available to date regarding the prevalence and clinical picture of FXTAS dementia. Differential diagnosis may be difficult, given overlapping motor and non-motor signs with several other neurodegenerative diseases. Anecdotal response to cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine has been reported, while symptomatic treatments can address the neuropsychiatric manifestations of FXTAS dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-84
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Psychiatry Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Cognition
  • Dementia
  • Executive function
  • FMR1 premutation
  • Memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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