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Different Apathy Profile in Behavioral Variant of Frontotemporal Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease: A Preliminary Investigation

Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1155/2012/719250
  • Research Article
  • Medicine
  • Psychology


Apathy is one of the most common behavioral symptoms of dementia; it is one of the salient features of behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) but is also very frequent in Alzheimer's disease. This preliminary investigation was aimed at assessing the type of apathy-related symptoms in a population of bvFTD and AD subjects showing comparable apathy severity. Each patient underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment; behavioral changes were investigated by the neuropsychiatric inventory (NPI), using the NPI-apathy subscale to detect apathetic symptoms. At univariate analysis, bvFTD subjects showed lack of initiation (χ2 = 4.602, p = 0.032), reduced emotional output (χ2 = 6.493, p = 0.008), and reduced interest toward friends and family members (χ2 = 4.898, p = 0.027), more frequently than AD subjects. BvFTD displayed higher scores than AD on NPI total score (p = 0.005) and on subscales assessing agitation (p = 0.004), disinhibition (p = 0.007) and sleep disturbances (p = 0.025); conversely, AD subjects were more impaired on memory, constructional abilities, and attention. On multivariate logistic regression, reduced emotional output was highly predictive of bvFTD (OR = 18.266; p = 0.008). Our preliminary findings support the hypothesis that apathy is a complex phenomenon, whose clinical expression is conditioned by the site of anatomical damage. Furthermore, apathy profile may help in differentiating bvFTD from AD.

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