Prevalence and cognitive underpinnings of isolated apathy in young healthy subjects

Matteo Pardini*, Christian Cordano, Silvia Guida, Jordan Henry Grafman, Frank Krueger, Davide Sassos, Davide Massucco, Lucia Abate, Özgür Yaldizli, Carlo Serrati, Mario Amore, Chiara Mattei, Leonardo Cocito, Leonardo Emberti Gialloreti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background Apathy is well described in neurodegenerative conditions, however to date there is no evidence of significant isolated apathy in subjects free from other neurological and psychiatric co-morbidites. Identifying isolated apathy in subjects free from neuropsychiatric conditions could contribute to refining current concepts of apathy and reevaluate its nosological classification as an independent clinical syndrome. Methods We assessed apathy and perceived quality of life in a group of 2751 adults (age 19-40 years) free from neuropsychiatric or medical conditions. Subjects with and without elevated apathy were compared on measures of depression, self-efficacy, behavioral inhibition, and behavioral activation. Results Observed prevalence of isolated elevated apathy was 1.45%. Subjects with apathy presented with reduced quality of life and lower behavioral activation compared to apathy-free subjects, while there was no difference between the two groups on measures of depression, self-efficacy, and perceived social skills. Limitations The main limitation of this study is the use of self-report questionnaires. Conclusions Isolated, ecologically-relevant apathy can be found in adults independently from the presence of subclinical depression or of concurrent medical conditions. Apathy screening should be considered in the evaluation of young non-depressed subjects with reduced perceived quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-275
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Affective disorders
  • Epidemiology
  • Motivation
  • Neuropsychiatry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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