Thursday, August 27, 2009

Apathy and executive function in psychosis

While the 'positive' symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations, are more dramatic and well-known people with this condition often suffer from a number of negative symptoms too. These include apathy, a lack of pleasure in anything (anhedonia), alogia (answering questions with the bare minimum of information rather than taking part in a conversation), asociality, flat mood and a lack of attention. Scientists think that these negative symptoms might be associated with the cognitive problems also experienced by people with psychosis and schizophrenia. Researchers at the University of Oslo looked into the links between apathy and cognitive function in 71 people suffering from their first episode of psychosis. They assessed the participants' levels of apathy and gave them a series of neuropsychological tests. They found that apathy was associated with poorer semantic fluency, phonetic fluency and working memory - all aspects of cognition related to executive function. Executive function has already been associated with apathy in people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington disease and in people with traumatic brain injury.

Faerden, Ann - Apathy is associated with executive functioning in first episode psychosis BMC Psychiatry 2009, 9(1)

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