Apathy in older adults tied to brain shrinkage
New research published in the journal Neurology suggests that apathy in older people may be linked to their brains getting smaller.
The research, which involved the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, analyzed 4,354 people without dementia who were an average age of 76 years. All patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and were required to answer a questionnaire that measured apathy - the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15). The questions related to their lack of interest, emotion and energy, whether they preferred to stay at home and their overall activities and interests.
The researchers found that individuals who had two or more symptoms of apathy had 1.4 percent less gray matter volume and 1.6 percent less white matter volume than those who had fewer than two apathy symptoms.
The loss of gray and white matter, which control memories and brain communication, may have implications for cognitive function in older adults. The researchers think that developing ways to identify apathy earlier may be a means of targeting individuals who are at risk of brain disease.