Apathy may be used to predict dementia diagnosis before symptoms emerge

Over 300 participants took part in a study to investigate how apathy is linked to frontotemporal dementia, a condition typically emerging in late-adulthood.

Published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, researchers uncovered that apathy can be a predictive factor for dementia before symptoms of cognitive decline occur.

“Apathy adversely affects prognosis and survival of patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD),” according to the study.

“We test whether apathy develops in presymptomatic genetic FTD, and is associated with cognitive decline and brain atrophy.”

Throughout the study, clinical assessments and brain imaging tests were initiated, with a primary focus on apathy, cognitive changes, and gray matter volumes.

Among presymptomatic carriers, but not in healthy participants, apathy severity predicted cognitive decline years before emergence.

“Apathy severity increased over time in presymptomatic carriers, but not in non‐carriers,” the study shows.

“In presymptomatic carriers, baseline apathy predicted cognitive decline over two years, but not vice versa. Apathy progression was associated with baseline low gray matter volume in frontal and cingulate regions,” researchers concluded.

Image courtesy of Science Photo Library
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