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Apathy as a behavioural marker of cognitive impairment in Parkinson's disease: a longitudinal analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Neurology
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)214-227
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date15/10/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


BACKGROUND: Understanding the longitudinal course of non-motor symptoms, and finding markers to predict cognitive decline in Parkinson's disease (PD), are priorities. Previous work has demonstrated that apathy is one of the only behavioural symptoms that differentiates people with PD and intact cognition from those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI-PD). Other psychiatric symptoms emerge as dementia in PD develops.

OBJECTIVE: We explored statistical models of longitudinal change to detect apathy as a behavioural predictor of cognitive decline in PD.

METHODS: We followed 104 people with PD intermittently over 2 years, undertaking a variety of motor, behavioural and cognitive measures. We applied a linear mixed effects model to explore behavioural factors associated with cognitive change over time. Our approach goes beyond conventional modelling based on a random-intercept and slope approach, and can be used to examine the variability in measures within individuals over time.

RESULTS: Global cognitive scores worsened during the two-year follow-up, whereas the longitudinal evolution of self-rated apathy scores and other behavioural measures was negligible. Level of apathy was negatively (- 0.598) correlated with level of cognitive impairment and participants with higher than average apathy scores at baseline also had poorer cognition. The model indicated that departure from the mean apathy score at any point in time was mirrored by a corresponding departure from average global cognitive score.

CONCLUSION: High levels of apathy are predictive of negative cognitive and behavioural outcomes over time, suggesting that apathy may be a behavioural indicator of early cognitive decline. This has clinical and prognostic implications.