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November 1996

Cerebral Blood Flow Correlates of Apathy in Alzheimer Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Neurology (Drs Craig and Cummings) and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences (Drs Cummings and Fairbanks), University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA School of Medicine; Behavioral Neuroscience Section, Psychiatry Service, West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Dr Cummings); and Departments of Neurology (Dr Miller, Ms Li, and Mr Itti) and Radiology (Dr Mena), Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Arch Neurol. 1996;53(11):1116-1120. doi:10.1001/archneur.1996.00550110056012

Background:  Apathy is a pervasive noncognitive neuropsychiatric disturbance in Alzheimer disease, which causes significant caregiver distress. The neuroanatomical substrate of apathy is not well understood.

Objective:  To study the relationship between regional cerebral blood flow and the presence and severity of the personality disturbance, apathy, in individuals with Alzheimer disease.

Design:  Analysis of the relationship between regional cerebral blood flow as measured by single photon emission computed tomography and severity of apathy as measured by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory using an analysis of variance design. We examined regional cerebral perfusion alterations as measured by xenon 133Xecalibrated technetium Tc 99m hexamethyl-propy-leneamine-oxime single photon emission computed tomography in relation to the presence and severity of apathy.

Setting:  The neurology clinics of the University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA School of Medicine, and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Participants:  Thirty-one community-dwelling patients fulfilling National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke-Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association diagnostic criteria for probable Alzheimer disease who had a single photon computed tomographic scan performed within 3 months of administration of the Neuropsychiatric Inventory.

Results:  The presence of apathy was associated with more severe prefrontal and anterior temporal dysfunction. These regional cerebral perfusion relationships with apathy were independent of cognitive decline except in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

Conclusions:  These results demonstrate the association of apathetic syndromes with prefrontal and anterior temporal regional brain dysfunction and are consistent with similar findings previously reported in other disorders.

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