Apathy and sleep disturbance in PSP

In this letter, researchers report on a UK study of behavioral symptoms in 185 patients with PSP.

They found apathy to be the most characteristic behavioral feature. The researchers say: “Our results confirm…the view that the apathetic syndrome in PSP constitutes an independent entity that cannot simply be accounted for by depression.”

And, the researchers found that sleep disturbance is a major problem in PSP. “[Sleep] disturbance which, like motivation, showed a linear increase with disease duration. Unfortunately, the data available did not allow us to explore the nature of the sleep disturbance in more detail.”

The researchers conclude as follows: “The findings are of practical relevance in that care-givers can be reassured that the disease is unlikely to lead to aggressive, challenging, unpredictable or dangerous behaviours, which can be so distressing to those involved in care of bvFTD patients. However, the recognition of apathy as an integral, organically explainable feature of the disease, rather than a sign of rejection or disinterest, might reassure the care-givers and help them to develop better coping strategies.”

There is no abstract. The citation is below.


Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. 2010 Sep;81(9):1057-9.

Behavioural symptoms in progressive supranuclear palsy and frontotemporal dementia.

Bak TH, Crawford LM, Berrios G, Hodges JR.
Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia.