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Cognitive correlates of apathy in traumatic brain injury.

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  • 1Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital, Oslo, Norway. stein.anderson@sunnaas.no



To investigate the relation between apathy and cognitive deficits in patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).


Apathy defined as reduced goal-directed behavior due to lack of motivation constitutes a major neuropsychiatric symptom following TBI. According to definition, apathy should not be associated with global cognitive reduction, but rather with specific areas of cognitive dysfunction.


results from the Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES) and a comprehensive neuropsychologic assessment were collected in up to 53 patients with severe TBI. Neuropsychologic tests were organized in the following seven areas of cognitive function: acquisition and memory, attention span, executive function, psychomotor speed, verbal skills, nonverbal skills, and motor speed.


Apathy score was significantly correlated with reduced performance on acquisition and memory, psychomotor speed, and executive functions. A principal component analysis showed that these specific areas of cognitive functions clustered together with the cognitive dimension of apathy, not with behavioral or emotional aspects of apathy.


Apathy is associated with specific cognitive deficits related to frontal lobe dysfunction. The results are in accordance with the definition of apathy and confirm apathy-cognitive function relationships reported in other neurologic populations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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