Background: Apathy and depression may be strongly associated with executive dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease (AD). The Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB) is an instrument for assessing executive function. The dual task paradigm is also useful for assessing divided attention. However, the association between apathy/depression and these tasks is unclear.
Methods: Both the FAB and the dual task were used to evaluate AD patients. A two-way analysis of variance was then conducted between the FAB and dual task results and the absence versus the presence of depression or the absence versus the presence of apathy.
Results: Of 88 patients with AD, 26 had both apathy and depression, 26 had depression only, 18 had apathy only, and 18 had neither. Total FAB scores and dual task scores differed significantly between the AD patients with depression and those without depression; the scores were also different between those with apathy and those without apathy. Also, a significant interaction between depression and apathy was noted for the total FAB and dual task scores.
Conclusions: The deficits in the total FAB and dual task scores were larger in AD patients with both apathy and depression compared with patients with either apathy or depression alone. AD patients with both symptoms may have greater deficits in frontal lobe function relative to AD patients with either apathy or depression alone.