Apathy in Parkinson’s Disease

  • Roongroj Bhidayasiri
  • Daniel Tarsy
Part of the Current Clinical Neurology book series (CCNEU)


Apathy is defined as a set of behavioral, emotional, and cognitive features which are characterized by reduced interest and motivation in goal-directed behaviors, indifference, and flattened affect. While some studies focus on reduced motivation, others emphasize the lack of emotional responsiveness as a core feature. Patients typically show poor motivation with reduced initiative, effort, and perseverance as well as indifference to their circumstances. This is manifested as a lack of spontaneous engagement in or early withdrawal from their usual activities, a lack of concern for their own health, and the absence of concern for others or new experiences. A controversial issue is whether this loss of interest in goal-directed behaviors is simply the same phenomenon as the reduced interest and anhedonia characteristic of depression.


Usual Activity Emotional Responsiveness Dopamine Agonist Controversial Issue Cognitive Feature 
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Supplementary material

Apathy in PD.mp4 (MP4 22,233KB)

The patient is very withdrawn and does not establish eye contact even when spoken to directly. He does not engage in spontaneous conversation. He sits very still with his left hand holding his chin with a significant delay before he responds to questions. When asked, he performed finger tapping and hand opening tests normally and is able to walk independently. Rigidity is minimal and no tremor is present.


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    Dujardin K, Sockeel P, Devos D, et al. Characteristics of apathy in Parkinson’s disease. Mov Disord. 2007;22:778–84.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Marin RS. Differential diagnosis and classification of apathy. Am J Psychiatry. 1990;147:22–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roongroj Bhidayasiri
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel Tarsy
    • 3
  1. 1.Chulalongkorn Center of Excellence on Parkinson’s Disease and Related DisordersChulalongkorn University HospitalBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyDavid Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyHarvard Medical School Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterBostonUSA

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