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Temporal pole

  • Our scale for measuring the types and severity of impairment in language in primary progressive aphasia (PPA) was published in July 2010 an article in the journal Neurology; click here for more information.
  • Read about our fall 2009 Boston-area FTD Caregiver Educational Conference here and schedule here. The turnout of 85 registrants (mostly family member caregivers, also friends, social workers, etc) was excellent and we all learned from each other. Plans are in process for a larger conferece in 2010--thanks to everyone who participated!
  • New work in the MGH FTD Unit reveals brain regions associated with difficulties in word comprehension, which was presented at the 2009 Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago and at the First Neurobiology of Language Conference.

  • Visit the new Association for FTD website

  • Visit the new Association for FTD website

  • Other news  

Information regarding PASS scale; MGH FTD Unit

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    Background, Rationale, and Data

The Progressive Aphasia Symptom Severity (PASS) scale was developed by Daisy Sapolsky and Brad Dickerson in conjunction with collaborators Paige Nalipinski, David Caplan, Sandra Weintraub, and Marsel Mesulam. This scale is meant to provide a clinically grounded method for rating the degree of impairment in a variety of specific domains of language. We have demonstrated that the severity of impairment in specific domains of language in PPA relates to the location and severity of brain atrophy (shrinkage) in regions important for those functions. This will likely be useful in diagnosis of specific PPA subtypes. We are working now to determine whether a) this scale can be reliably used by other investigators and b) it is useful in tracking progression over time. If so, then this scale may be useful in clinical trials of various interventions aiming to maintain function in PPA.

The original scientific paper describing the first three domains of the PASS can be read here.
Additional papers have since been published reviewing the use of the PASS in monitoring symptoms of PPA:

Sapolsky D, Domoto-Reilly K, Dickerson BC. Use of the Progressive Aphasia Severity Scale (PASS) in monitoring speech and language status in PPA. Aphasiology. 2014 Jan 1;28(8-9):993-1003.

Dickerson BC. Quantitating Severity and Progression in Primary Progressive Aphasia. J Mol Neurosci. 2011 May 15. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 21573887

Sapolsky D, Domoto-Reilly K, Negreira A, Brickhouse M, McGinnis S, Dickerson BC. Monitoring progression of primary progressive aphasia: Current approaches and future directions. Neurodegenerative Disease Management 2011 1(1): 43-55.

    The PASS Scale and its Use
The current version of the scale (5.1) is available upon request.

A questionnaire has been developed to give to patients/family members to enable them to rate the patient's symptoms in each domain. Please contact us if you would like these and related materials.

Further information about the scale will be forthcoming on this website. We are developing a number of collaborative projects to investigate the multi-center reliability of the scale; please let us know if you are interested in participating in such a project.

For additional information, contact us at by email at or by telephone at 617-726-5571 (Megan Quimby, MS,, or email Brad Dickerson (

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For health care professionals, please contact us to discuss the use of this scale or possible collaborations for following your own patients in conjunction with our program using these and other instruments.