John Berry, an original member of the hip-hop group Beastie Boys, has died. According to his father, John Berry III, John passed away at a hospice facility in Danvers, MA. He had suffered from frontal lobe dementia for several years, and had declined in the past few months.
Berry helped found the group in the early 1980’s when he met band-mate Mike Diamond at the Walden School in NYC. They added Adam Yauch and Kate Schellenbach, and Berry is credited with coming up with the group’s name. He played with them on their first EP, Polly Wog Stew, but left the group shortly thereafter. Both Schellenbach and Berry were later replaced by Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock). Berry became a member of several other bands, including Even Worse, Big Fat Love, Highway Stars and Bourbon Deluxe.
When the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, Berry’s contribution to the group was not left out. In a letter written Adam Yauch (read by Horovitz), thanked Berry for his contribution to the formation of the group. (Yauch died in May 2012 from cancer of the parotid gland).
Frontotemporal disorders (FTD) are caused by a family of brain diseases that primarily affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain; they account for up to 10 percent of all dementia cases. As it is defined today, the symptoms of FTD fall into two clinical patterns that involve either (1) changes in behavior, or (2) problems with language.
Some, but not all, forms of FTD are considered tauopathies. Tauopathies are conditions that can cause dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common tauopathy. In tauopathies, a protein called tau clumps together inside nerve cells in the brain, causing the cells to stop functioning properly and die.
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning, which means the loss of the ability to think, remember, or reason, as well as behavioral abilities, to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Signs and symptoms of dementia result when once-healthy neurons (nerve cells) in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die. While everyone loses some neurons as they age, people with dementia experience far greater loss.
Symptoms of frontotemporal disorders vary from person to person and from one stage of the disease to the next as different parts of the frontal and temporal lobes are affected. In general, changes in the frontal lobe are associated with behavioral symptoms, while changes in the temporal lobe lead to language and emotional disorders.
Symptoms are often misunderstood. Family members and friends may think that a person is misbehaving, leading to anger and conflict. For example, a person with FTD may neglect personal hygiene or start shoplifting. It is important to understand that people with these disorders cannot control their behaviors and other symptoms. Moreover, they lack any awareness of their illness, making it difficult to get help.
People with PPA may have only problems using and understanding words or also problems with the physical ability to speak. People with both kinds of problems have trouble speaking and writing. They may become mute, or unable to speak. Language problems usually get worse, while other thinking and social skills may remain normal longer before deteriorating.
No treatment has been shown to slow the progression of FTD. Behavior modification may help control unacceptable or dangerous behaviors. Aggressive, agitated, or dangerous behaviors could require medication. Anti-depressants have been shown to improve some symptoms.
What is the prognosis?
The outcome for people with FTD is poor. The disease progresses steadily and often rapidly, ranging from less than 2 years in some individuals to more than 10 years in others. Eventually some individuals with FTD will need 24-hour care and monitoring at home or in an institutionalized care setting.