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Neural correlates of apathy in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): a resting state fMRI study

Stevelink, M. (2016) Neural correlates of apathy in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): a resting state fMRI study. Master's Thesis / Essay, Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences.

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Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is the presence of cognitive decline that is not severe enough for the diagnosis of dementia. Patients that suffer from MCI exhibit many neuropsychiatric symptoms including apathy. Apathy is seen as a state of indifference and patients show diminished voluntary goal-directed behaviour. Apathy could increase the risk of developing MCI in normal cognitive subjects. Moreover, also the progression from MCI to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) could be predicted by apathy. It has been found that MCI, but also the cognitive and executive function deficits that are seen in MCI patients, is associated with altered functional connectivity (FC) patterns. These FC networks can be investigated with resting state (RS) fMRI. The relationship between FC patterns in aMCI with apathy has not been evaluated before. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyse resting state (rs) fMRI data to investigate the neural correlates of apathy in aMCI. Rs fMRI was assessed in 31 aMCI patients and twenty healthy controls. Rs fMRI data was analyzed using independent component analysis (ICA). Components of interest were selected for further analysis. We classified two components as default mode network (DMN), one as basal ganglia network (BGN), two as central executive network (CEN) and three/four as the salience network (SN). We found altered within-network functional connectivity in CEN and SN in MCI patients compared with healthy controls (HCs). Besides, apathy levels in aMCI were correlated with increasing functional connectivity patterns in BGN and SN, whereas apathy levels in aMCI were correlated with decreasing functional connectivity patterns in BGN, CEN and SN. Regarding between-network functional connectivity, weaker connectivity patterns were found between SN and DMN in MCI subjects compared with HCs. Moreover, a negative correlation between level of apathy in MCI patients and connectivity between two components of the SN was found, whereas a positive correlation was found between apathy level and connectivity between the SN and DMN. The results on alterations in FC in SN and CEN in aMCI patients could be explained by the cognitive deficits in aMCI. Nevertheless, according to the functions of the DMN and the cognitive deficits in aMCI we expected to find more alterations in DMN connectivity in aMCI. Furthermore, altered connectivity in CEN, SN, BGN correlated to apathy could be explained by the presence of apathy in these subjects. Still, more research is needed to elucidate the role of these FC patterns in the development of apathy and the progression of MCI.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:24
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:24

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