The MRI brain correlates of depressed mood, anhedonia, apathy, and anergia in older adults with and without cognitive impairment or dementia

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2008 Oct;23(10):1040-50. doi: 10.1002/gps.2030.


Objectives: We examined the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) correlates of depressed mood, apathy, anhedonia, and anergia in older adults with and without cognitive impairment or dementia.

Methods: This analysis included 270 community-dwelling older adults (59% male; 79% Caucasian; mean age 74.4 years) who were recruited into a multi-center longitudinal observational study of subcortical ischemic vascular disease (SIVD).The distribution of cognitive status included: cognitively intact (38%), cognitively impaired (27%), or demented (35%). All subjects underwent MRI and 41% were classified as having subcortical lacunes. MRI measures included cortical gray and white matter volumes, lacunar volumes in subcortical white and gray matter structures, volume of white matter hyperintensities, and total hippocampal volume. Depressed mood, anhedonia, anergia, and apathy apparent at the time of assessment were assessed using a behavioral assessment Associations between neuropsychiatric symptoms and MRI variables were evaluated using logistic regression.

Results: Subjects with neuropsychiatric symptoms were more likely to be cognitively impaired or demented than those without neuropsychiatric symptoms. In multivariate models controlling for cognitive status, age, gender, and education, higher lacunar volume in white matter was independently associated with the presence of all four neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Conclusions: We report an association between the lacunar volumes in the white matter and depressed mood, anhedonia, apathy, and anergia, thus supporting the role of subcortical ischemic vascular disease in the pathogenesis of late-life neuropsychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Dementia / pathology*
  • Depression / pathology*
  • Educational Status
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Sex Factors