Standard Article

Pick's Disease

  1. David Irwin,
  2. Carol F. Lippa

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0685

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Irwin, D. and Lippa, C. F. 2010. Pick's Disease. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. Drexel University College of Medicine

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Pick's disease is a neurodegenerative dementing illness first described by Arnold Pick in 1892. Pick's original description, as reviewed by Kertsez (2007), was based on clinical cases of aphasia and behavioral abnormalities that corresponded to focal atrophy of the temporal and frontal lobes. The description of focal neurodegeneration was a new concept, as atrophy was felt to be a diffuse process at the time (Kertsez, 2007). Pick's original studies were limited to gross examination. Alois Alzheimer was the first to describe histological features of these patients in 1911 (Rossor, 2001). He found argyrophilic intraneuronal inclusion bodies, composed of the microfilament protein tau, in affected brain regions in these patients and “ballooned” achromatic cells, with relative sparing of the hippocampus and lack of neurofibrillary tangles or plaques (Rossor, 2001). These inclusion bodies, thought to be characteristic of all patients fitting Pick's original description, were named Pick bodies, and the degenerating neurons were named Pick cells (see Figure 1). Onari and Spatz outlined criteria for diagnosis in 1926 with a strong emphasis on macroscopic features, including frontal atrophy and neuronal depletion in superficial cortical layers, with occasional presence of Pick bodies or Pick cells (Uchihara, Ikeda, & Tsuchiya, 2003). As it became apparent that not all clinical cases of Pick's disease contained the Pick bodies or Pick cells, characterization and nomenclature became problematic.


  • dementia;
  • neurodegenerative disease;
  • frontotemporal dementia;
  • non-Alzheimer dementia