Relationship between self-reported apathy and executive dysfunction in nondemented patients with Parkinson disease

Dennis J. Zgaljardic, Joan C. Borod, Nancy S. Foldi, Mary Rocco, Paul J. Mattis, Mark F. Gordon, Andrew S. Feigin, David Eidelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The prevalence of apathy was assessed across select cognitive and psychiatric variables in 32 nondemented patients with Parkinson disease (PD) and 29 demographically matched healthy control participants. BACKGROUND: Apathy is common in PD, although differentiating apathy from motor, cognitive, and/or other neuropsychiatric symptoms can be challenging. Previous studies have reported a positive relationship between apathy and cognitive impairment, particularly executive dysfunction. METHOD: Patients were categorized according to apathy symptom severity. Stringent criteria were used to exclude patients with dementia. RESULTS: Approximately 44% of patients endorsed significant levels of apathy. Those patients performed worse than patients with nonsignificant levels of apathy on select measures of verbal fluency and on a measure of verbal and nonverbal conceptualization. Further, they reported a greater number of symptoms related to depression and behavioral disturbance than did those patients with nonsignificant levels of apathy. Apathy was significantly related to self-report of depression and executive dysfunction. Performance on cognitive tasks assessing verbal fluency, working memory, and verbal abstraction and also on a self-report measure of executive dysfunction was shown to significantly predict increasing levels of apathy. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that apathy in nondemented patients with PD seems to be strongly associated with executive dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-192
Number of pages9
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Apathy
  • Executive dysfunction
  • Neuropsychologic assessment
  • Parkinson disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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