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Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2011 Jan;12(1):52-8. doi: 10.3109/17482968.2010.521842.

Neuroanatomical correlates of apathy in ALS using 4 Tesla diffusion tensor MRI.

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Forbes Norris ALS Research Center, Department of Neurology, California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA.


Our objective was to determine whether apathy in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) relates to structural changes associated with the degenerative process or disease related factors such as illness duration, physical disability, or hypoxia. Using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) with fractional anisotropy (FA), we conducted a voxel-based analysis of whole-brain changes to investigate decline in white matter integrity as it correlates with apathy in ALS. Twenty-four patients enrolled in the study were compared with 24 age- and gender-matched controls. The relationship between FA and apathy scores was tested using a general linear model accounting for age, gender and functional disability in 16 ALS patients. Results showed that, using a spatially unbiased voxel-wise approach and the statistical map-driven region of interest (ROI), a significant negative correlation existed between FA and apathy change scores in the right anterior cingulum region, whereas ALS disease severity was significantly correlated with FA alterations in bilateral motor areas. Apathy was not correlated with clinical depression, disease duration or respiratory dysfunction. In conclusion, our findings point towards a biological basis for apathy in the anterior cingulum, consistent with research on apathy in other neurological populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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