Is there a biological basis for apathy or lack of motivation? In a new study led by Professor Masud Husain study, people were asked to decide whether they were willing to invest different levels of effort for different magnitudes of reward.
Anticipation of effort was associated with activity in premotor areas including the supplementary motor cortex. Surprisingly this activity was greater in apathetic people.
The functional connectivity - or coupling - between the supplementary cortex (shown in pink) and anterior cingulate cortex (shown in orange) was reduced in these individuals with evidence also of altered structural connectivity. The results suggest that the brains of apathetic people might be less efficient in converting decisions to actions. Therefore there might be bigger ‘cost’ for the brain to take actions in apathetic individuals.