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Keywords:

  • apathy;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • voxel-based morphometry

Abstract

Apathy is generally defined as a disorder of motivation and is considered one of the most common neuropsychiatric disturbances in Parkinson's disease (PD). Only few studies addressed the neuroanatomical correlates of apathy in PD. The aim of this article was to determine the structural correlates of apathy in PD patients. Fifty-five PD patients underwent a neuropsychiatric and neuropsychological examination, and a 3 T magnetic resonance imaging scan was acquired. A voxel-based multiple regression analysis was used to calculate correlation between gray matter density and severity measures of apathy. Apathy correlates with decreased cognitive functioning and more depressive symptoms but not with more severe motor symptoms. High apathy scores were correlated with low gray matter density values in a number of cortical brain areas: the bilateral precentral gyrus (BA 4, 6), the bilateral inferior parietal gyrus (BA 40), the bilateral inferior frontal gyrus (BA 44, 47), the bilateral insula (BA 13), the right (posterior) cingulate gyrus (BA 24, 30, 31), and the right precuneus (BA 31). Apathy in PD correlates with reduced gray matter density in a number of brain regions. The involvement of the cingulate gyrus and inferior frontal gyrus is in line with the results of earlier studies addressing apathy in patients with Alzheimer's disease or depressive disorder. Further studies addressing the pathogenesis of apathy are needed. © 2010 Movement Disorder Society.