Identifying a common functional framework for apathy large-scale brain network

Vincenzo Alfano, Mariachiara Longarzo, Giulia Mele, Marcello Esposito, Marco Aiello, Marco Salvatore, Dario Grossi, Carlo Cavaliere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Apathy is a neuropsychiatric condition characterized by reduced motivation, initiative, and interest in daily life activities, and it is commonly reported in several neurodegenerative disorders. The study aims to investigate large-scale brain networks involved in apathy syndrome in patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) compared to a group of healthy controls (HC). The study sample includes a total of 60 subjects: 20 apathetic FTD and PD patients, 20 non apathetic FTD and PD patients, and 20 HC matched for age. Two disease-specific apathy-evaluation scales were used to measure the presence of apathy in FTD and PD patients; in the same day, a 3T brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with structural and resting-state functional (fMRI) sequences was acquired. Differences in functional connectivity (FC) were assessed between apathetic and non-apathetic patients with and without primary clinical diagnosis revealed, using a whole-brain, seed-to-seed approach. A significant hypoconnectivity between apathetic patients (both FTD and PD) and HC was detected between left planum polare and both right pre-or post-central gyrus. Finally, to investigate whether such neural alterations were due to the underlying neurodegenerative pathology, we replicated the analysis by considering two independent patients’ samples (i.e., non-apathetic PD and FTD). In these groups, functional differences were no longer detected. These alterations may subtend the involvement of neural pathways implicated in a specific reduction of information/elaboration processing and motor outcome in apathetic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number679
JournalJournal of Personalized Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Apathy
  • FMRI
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Neuropsychology
  • Parkinson’s disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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