EEG display with person in background
Project Type - Pilot Projects

EEG Markers of Apathy in Dementia

Developing an EEG protocol to assess emotional response in dementia patients.
Latin America & Caribbean


Apathy is a very common behavioral alteration in dementia, impacting therapeutics and even mortality. The apathetic syndrome affects brain mechanisms associated with sensitivity to reward and processing of cognitive, affective, and motoric information. A multidimensional approach to investigate apathy is required to better characterize profiles across diseases. In addition, new techniques should be incorporated to acquire more reliable and sophisticated results such as the electroencephalogram (EEG), which has proven to be an interesting source of information. The association between EEG and clinical evaluations may enhance our understanding of apathy, potentially impacting the practice. This study aims to apply a multidimensional assessment of apathy and develop an EEG protocol to assess emotional response in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and behavioral-variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD).

Project Details

A comprehensive assessment of apathy will provide new insights for diagnosing and treating this behavioral alteration in dementia. This study, which will create research focused on combining resources from neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry, and electrophysiology, will happen in different phases. 

  • Firstly, the Chieti Affective Action Videos Database (CAAV) will be evaluated in the Brazilian context, amplifying the set of tools available to investigate emotions in this community. 
  • Then, feasibility assessments will check and adjust the protocol parameters for the participants. 
  • The final stage is the application of the study in the clinical setting. 

Our methods will involve 60 participants: 20 healthy controls, 20 patients with AD, and 20 patients with bvFTD. All the participants will undergo a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment (including a neuropsychiatric investigation) and the EEG collection.

This multidimensional perspective will significantly enhance the research field, especially in Brazil, where such studies are often unavailable. For the first time, this type of protocol will be developed to assess apathy in dementia, enhance differential diagnosis and the clinical understanding of brain pathways to process emotions in apathetic patients. The success of this project will open a reliable source of information for apathy and other neuropsychiatric alterations seen in dementia.