Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Apathy common in dementia patients with brain changes

02.12.2009
Dementia patients with a certain type of changes in their brain's white matter are more likely to be apathetic than those who do not have these changes, reveals a patient study carried out by the Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Changes in the brain's white matter are common among the elderly and dementia patients, and often appear as blurred patches on CT and MRI images.

"A likely explanation for the changes is that the small blood vessels that supply the white matter are not working as they should," says Michael Jonsson, PhD-student at the Sahlgrenska Academy and consultant psychiatrist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital's memory clinic. "This results in that the long nerve fibres and their fatty sheaths degenerate."

Apathy is one of the most common psychological problems associated with dementia. Just over half of all dementia patents are emotionally blunted and lack motivation and initiative. This new study shows that this apathy is far more common in patients who have the characteristic changes in the brain. This discovery suggests that there is a common biological reason behind this apathy, irrespective of which type of dementia a patient has. The changes are located deep in the brain and primarily affect the neural pathways that run from this part of the brain to the frontal lobes, which are important for taking the initiative and the ability to plan.

"Even though we think we know a bit about which pathways are affected in cases of apathy, we still need to find out more about the anatomy and chemistry behind the development of these symptoms," says Jonsson. "This is vital if we are to develop medication to treat apathy."

The study involved 176 patients with Alzheimer's, vascular dementia or mixed dementia. 82 per cent of the patients with changes in their white matter were apathetic, while 58 per cent of all of the dementia patients were apathetic.

Given that apathy reduces quality of life for patients with dementia and increases the risk of institutionalisation, a great deal of research is under way to find a treatment. Treatments that do not involve medication, such as increased physical exercise, cognitive stimulation and massage, do not seem to work.

"Some studies have shown that the medicines currently used for Alzheimer's can have a positive impact on apathy in other types of dementia too," says Jonsson. "Other medicines may also be of interest, but we need to carry out more research in this area."

DEMENTIA
The most common symptoms of dementia are forgetfulness, impaired speech and problems with recognition and orientation. It is a condition that can affect all our mental faculties and that is more common as we get older. Around seven per cent of the Swedish population over the age of 65 and just over 20 per cent of the over-80s have severe dementia.
For more information, please contact:
Michael Jonsson, doctoral student at the Sahlgrenska Academy and doctor at Sahlgrenska University Hospital's memory clinic, tel: +46 31 343 8667, mobile: +46 70 729 3389, e-mail: michael.jonsson@vgregion.se

Journal: International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

Title of the article: Apathy is a prominent neuropsychiatric feature of radiological white-matter changes in patients with dementia

Authors: M Jonsson, Å Edman, K Lind, S Rolstad, M Sjögren and A Wallin
Int J Geriatr Psychiatry, 22 Oct 2009 [Epub ahead of print]

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://www.sahlgrenska.gu.se/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>