Overview of cognitive and behavioural change and FTD

Some people with motor neurone disease (MND) will experience changes in thinking, reasoning and behaviour. For many people the changes will be subtle and have little or no effect on daily life, but a small number of people will develop frontotemporal dementia and need additional support.

People with MND appear to fall into four groups:

  • around 50% are unaffected by cognitive change
  • around 35% experience mild cognitive change, with specific deficits in executive functions, language and/or social cognition
  • up to 15% develop frontotemporal dementia (FTD), either at the same time or after diagnosis of MND
  • up to 15% of people diagnosed with FTD go on to develop MND. Symptoms of dementia may lead to FTD being diagnosed before movement is affected and MND is diagnosed.

There is a wide spectrum of changes in cognition in MND. Some people experience very mild changes, barely noticeable, whereas for others the changes can be more pronounced and obvious.

Cognitive changes can affect:

Frontotemporal dementia

A small but significant minority of people experience severe changes that will be diagnosed as frontotemporal dementia (FTD). These changes are most often in behaviour and executive skills, but sometimes they are in language or conceptual understanding.

Find out more

More information about cognitive change and FTD can be found in our booklet for health and social care professionals:

• Cognitive change, frontotemporal dementia and MND

Contact MND Connect if you have any questions about MND and supporting people with the condition.

Other useful resources


For further information and support contact our MND Connect helpline

mndconnect 0808 802 6262