Structural MRI correlates of apathy symptoms in older persons without dementia: AGES-Reykjavik Study

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



We aimed to investigate the relation between apathy symptoms and structural brain changes on MRI, including white matter lesions (WMLs) and atrophy, in a large cohort of older persons.


Cross-sectional analyses are based on 4,354 persons without dementia (aged 76 ± 5 years) participating in the population-based Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility–Reykjavik Study. Apathy symptoms were assessed with 3 items from the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale. Brain volumes and total WML volume were estimated on 1.5-tesla MRI using an automated segmentation program; regional WML load was calculated using a semiquantitative scale. Regression analyses were adjusted for age, sex, education, intracranial volume, vascular risk factors, physical activity, brain infarcts, depressive symptoms, antidepressants, and cognitive status.


Compared to those with <2 apathy symptoms, participants with ≥2 apathy symptoms (49% of the cohort) had significantly smaller gray matter volumes (mean adjusted difference −3.6 mL, 95% confidence interval [CI] −6.2 to −1.0), particularly in the frontal and temporal lobes; smaller white matter volumes (mean adjusted difference −1.9 mL, 95% CI −3.6 to −0.3), mainly in the parietal lobe; and smaller thalamus volumes. They were also more likely to have WMLs in the frontal lobe (adjusted odds ratio = 1.08, 95% CI 0.9–1.3). Excluding participants with a depression diagnosis did not change the associations.


In this older population without dementia, apathy symptoms are associated with a more diffuse loss of both gray and white matter volumes, independent of depression.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles