Neuropsychological correlates of apathy and depression in patients with dementia

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Abstract

Objective:

To investigate the association between apathy and depression, and specific cognitive deficits in AD.

Background:

Apathy and depression are frequent behavioral disorders in patients with AD. However, the neuropsychological correlates of these disorders have rarely been examined.

Methods:

A comprehensive neuropsychological and psychiatric evaluation was carried out in 72 patients with AD with apathy and depression, 29 patients with AD with apathy only, 31 patients with AD with depression only, and 52 patients with AD with neither apathy nor depression (control group).

Results:

Patients with apathy had significantly lower scores on tests of verbal memory, naming, set shifting, and verbal fluency compared with patients without apathy. The association of depression and apathy produced significantly more severe deficits compared with apathy only on a test of abstract thinking. Finally, depression in the absence of apathy was not associated with more severe cognitive impairments compared with the AD control group.

Conclusions:

Apathy, but not depression, is associated with significantly more severe frontal lobe related cognitive deficits in AD.

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