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Apathy is a fundamental neuropsychiatric symptom of Korsakoff's syndrome (KS) and has also been reported in patients with alcohol use disorder with no (AUD) or less severe cognitive impairments (ARCI). However, research on the nature of apathy is limited in these groups. Aim of this study was to examine the multidimensional nature of apathy in patients with KS, ARCI and AUD. Moreover, we examined differences between apathy ratings by patients and their professional caregivers, and related apathy to everyday functioning and overall cognition. Twenty-five patients with KS, 25 patients with ARCI and 23 patients with AUD participated in this study. Apathy was measured using the apathy motivation index (AMI), which distinguishes behavioral, emotional and social apathy. Both patients and professional caregivers reported social apathy as the most prominent symptom, compared to behavioral and emotional apathy. Apathy ratings did not differ across the three patient groups. Discrepancies between patient and caregiver ratings were observed in patients with KS and ARCI, with more severe apathy reported by caregivers. Caregiver-reported behavioral and social, but not emotional, apathy was related to everyday functioning. These results show that apathy is present in a substantial proportion of patients with alcohol addiction with or without cognitive impairments.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Med

Publication Date





Korsakoff’s syndrome, alcohol use disorder, alcohol-related cognitive impairments, apathy, neuropsychology