Apathy is a psychiatric symptom that is characterised by a loss of motivation and emotional blunting. It is common in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, but also occurs in otherwise healthy ageing. Despite having a profound impact on quality of life, there is no specific treatment for apathy, and little is known about why apathy occurs in healthy ageing. Investigation of its underlying neurobiology using a rodent model could help elucidate a treatment, but it is not clear whether healthy, aged mice show quantifiable apathy-related behaviour.
Our study shows that healthy aged mice show deficits in motivated and emotional behaviours as well as a reduction in stress reactivity at a hormonal and cellular level which together suggest aged mice show an apathy phenotype and can be used to better understand the underlying neurobiology of the symptom.
Megan Jackson, SWBio DTP student