When brain scientists at Oxford University studied apathy, they didn't expect to see less motivated people making more effort. Their results suggest that for some people traditionally perceived as lazy, it's biology – not attitude – that might be the cause.
We know that in some cases people can become pathologically apathetic, for example after a stroke or with Alzheimer's disease. Many such patients can be physically capable. Yet they can become so demotivated they won’t be bothered to care for themselves, even though they're not depressed. By studying healthy people, we wanted to find out whether any differences in their brains might shed light on apathy.
- Masud Husain, Professor of Neurology and Cognitive Neuroscience
A team of neuroscientists at Oxford, funded by The Wellcome Trust, decided to study young people to see if there were any differences in the brains of those who were motivated compared to those who were apathetic.
The paper, Individual Differences in Premotor Brain Systems Underlie Behavioural Apathy, is published in the journal Cerebral Cortex (doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv247)