White matter change with apathy and impulsivity in frontotemporal lobar degeneration syndromes

Claire J. Lansdall, Ian T. S. Coyle-Gilchrist, P. Simon Jones, Patricia Vázquez Rodríguez, Alicia Wilcox, Eileen Wehmann, Katrina M. Dick, Trevor W. Robbins, James B. Rowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To identify the white matter correlates of apathy and impulsivity in the major syndromes associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration, using diffusion-weighted imaging and data from the PiPPIN (Pick's Disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy: Prevalence and Incidence) study. We included behavioral and language variants of frontotemporal dementia, corticobasal syndrome, and progressive supranuclear palsy.

Methods: Seventy patients and 30 controls underwent diffusion tensor imaging at 3-tesla after detailed assessment of apathy and impulsivity. We used tract-based spatial statistics of fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity, correlating with 8 orthogonal dimensions of apathy and impulsivity derived from a principal component analysis of neuropsychological, behavioral, and questionnaire measures.

Results: Three components were associated with significant white matter tract abnormalities. Carer-rated change in everyday skills, self-care, and motivation correlated with widespread changes in dorsal frontoparietal and corticospinal tracts, while carer observations of impulsive–apathetic and challenging behaviors revealed disruption in ventral frontotemporal tracts. Objective neuropsychological tests of cognitive control, reflection impulsivity, and reward responsiveness were associated with focal changes in the right frontal lobe and presupplementary motor area. These changes were observed across clinical diagnostic groups, and were not restricted to the disorders for which diagnostic criteria include apathy and impulsivity.

Conclusion: The current study provides evidence of distinct structural network changes in white matter associated with different neurobehavioral components of apathy and impulsivity across the diverse spectrum of syndromes and pathologies associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1066-e1076
Number of pages11
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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