Understanding apathy in Huntington’s disease – from cognitive mechanisms to longitudinal trajectories.Support this project
Apathy (loss of motivation) is commonly seen in people with Huntington’s disease (HD), but remains poorly understood. Dr Le Heron’s team will study people with HD in Canterbury using novel behavioural tasks, to determine whether apathy is caused by disruption of normal brain decision-making processes. Furthermore, by combining these insights with analyses of international HD datasets – which researchers and patients in Canterbury have been contributing to for the last eight years – we will deepen understanding of how apathy evolves in relation to other aspects of HD. By doing so, the study will provide new understanding of the mechanisms underlying apathy. This will open two new avenues for improving clinical management. Firstly, it will pave the way for treatments that specifically target apathy itself, thereby improving quality of life for patients. Secondly, the combined mechanistic and trajectory information will provide an important step towards an apathy-based behavioural biomarker, to be used to guide management in clinical settings and as an outcome of trials.
Dr Le Heron is a neurologist with a strong interest in cognitive disorders and the normal neural processes that underlie these deficits. He completed my undergraduate medical studies at the University of Otago, and subsequently undertook Neurology advanced training in Melbourne, Australia and a Fellowship in Oxford, UK.