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Apathy, characterized by diminished motivation, is a highly prevalent neuropsychiatric symptom in dementia. However, there is a substantial knowledge gap with regard to prevalence rates, neurobiological underpinnings, and effective treatments for apathy in pre-dementia states, including mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and mild behavioral impairment (MBI).
We conducted a comprehensive literature search using MEDLINE, Embase, and PsycINFO databases to identify available research on apathy in prodromal dementia.
Apathy has consistently been detected in individuals with MCI with varying prevalence rates, and only recently has literature discussed the prevalence of apathy in MBI. Few pharmacological treatments have been utilized for apathy, with galantamine and risperidone showing mild reductions in apathetic behaviors. Non-pharmacological interventions in prodromal dementia are beginning to be explored and show promise, but few studies have replicated those results.
More comprehensive guidelines for diagnosing apathy and further research investigating neurobiological mechanisms of apathy in MCI and MBI are required in order to effectively treat apathetic patients in prodromal dementia.
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