Apathy associated with neurocognitive disorders: Recent progress and future directions

Krista L. Lanctôt, Luis Agüera-Ortiz, Henry Brodaty, Paul T. Francis, Yonas E. Geda, Zahinoor Ismail, Gad A. Marshall, Moyra E. Mortby, Chiadi U. Onyike, Prasad R. Padala, Antonios M. Politis, Paul B. Rosenberg, Emma Siegel, David L. Sultzer, Eleenor H. Abraham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Introduction Apathy is common in neurocognitive disorders (NCDs) such as Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment. Although the definition of apathy is inconsistent in the literature, apathy is primarily defined as a loss of motivation and decreased interest in daily activities. Methods The Alzheimer's Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment (ISTAART) Neuropsychiatric Syndromes Professional Interest Area (NPS-PIA) Apathy workgroup reviewed the latest research regarding apathy in NCDs. Results Progress has recently been made in three areas relevant to apathy: (1) phenomenology, including the use of diagnostic criteria and novel instruments for measurement, (2) neurobiology, including neuroimaging, neuropathological and biomarker correlates, and (3) interventions, including pharmacologic, nonpharmacologic, and noninvasive neuromodulatory approaches. Discussion Recent progress confirms that apathy has a significant impact on those with major NCD and those with mild NCDs. As such, it is an important target for research and intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-100
Number of pages17
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Alzheimer's disease (AD)
  • Apathy
  • Mild behavioral impairment (MBI)
  • Neurocognitive disorders (NCD)
  • neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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