Journal of Neurology

, Volume 266, Issue 2, pp 507–514 | Cite as

Clinical and demographic correlates of apathy in Parkinson’s disease

  • Daniel S. Brown
  • Matthew J. Barrett
  • Joseph L. Flanigan
  • Scott A. SperlingEmail author
Original Communication



To better understand the demographic, neuropsychiatric, cognitive, and motor predictors of apathy in Parkinson’s disease (PD).


112 participants (Mage = 68.53 years; Mdisease duration = 6.17 years) were administered the Apathy Scale (AS), Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Movement Disorder Society Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS), Trail Making Test (TMT), Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-IV Matrix Reasoning subtest, letter (F-A-S) and category (Animals) fluency, and Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised. Psychosis was assessed. A stepwise logistic regression analysis was performed to investigate the ability of demographic factors and clinical assessments to predict nonapathetic (AS ≤ 13) versus apathetic (AS > 13) group membership.


The regression analysis yielded a robust model in which older age, less education, elevated BDI-II, current psychosis, higher MDS-UPDRS Part III (motor score), and slower TMT-B performance predicted membership in the apathetic group, with a correct classification rate of 77.5% (Nagelkerke R2 = 0.48, p < .001). Depression (OR = 9.20, p < .001) and education (OR = 0.66, p = 0.002) contributed significantly to the overall model. A linear regression with AS score as the outcome variable was similar, but TMT-B additionally contributed significantly (p = 0.02) to the overall model, F(6, 86) = 12.02, p < .001, adjusted R2 = 0.42.


Of the factors examined, depression, education, and executive functioning were the strongest correlates of apathy in PD. These results support the idea that common underlying frontosubcortical disruptions in this population contribute to apathy, depression, and executive dysfunction.


Parkinson’s disease Apathy Depression Cognition Executive function 



This study was funded by the American Parkinson Disease Association Center for Advanced Research at the University of Virginia.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

This study received local institutional review board approval and has, therefore, been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all participants prior to their inclusion in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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